Michaëlle Jean, Canada’s Governor General, is currently on a series of state visits to the sub-Saharan African countries of Senegal, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Cape Verde.
“I wanted to visit central Africa to encourage the efforts to bring peace to the region, to rebuild and to restore the ties of trust and the rule of law,” Jean said in a press release.
Sub-Saharan Africa has recently been in the news for a proposed anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda, arrests of gay men in Kenya and Malawi and for a recent US State Department human rights report on Zimbabwe, which detailed the practice of “corrective rape” being perpetrated against gays and lesbians. Last year, nine gay men were given eight-year prison sentences in Senegal for “indecent acts."
Jean’s office would not confirm the content of any of her speeches during the tour, but according to the itinerary, Jean will be addressing the topic of sexual violence during a stop in Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tues, April 20th. There, Jean will visit the HEAL Africa hospital, which receives funds from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The visit will be followed up by a roundtable discussion on sexual violence, something especially relevant to the country, which has been through a major civil war.
Jean’s stop in Kigali, Rwanda, the following day will also include a youth discussion on reconciliation and has the topic of human rights listed on the agenda.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has previously condemned the anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda and raised the issue with the country’s president.