Human Rights

Human rights under threat as conflict, violence plague Africa: Watchdog

The threat of violence, rights abuses, military coups, and armed conflict remains pervasive in Africa “against a backdrop of backsliding on democratic safeguards and rule of law,” according to a new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report.

“African leaders failed to tackle widespread abuses against civilians by state security forces and non-state armed groups and insufficiently prioritized justice efforts for victims of atrocities across the continent,” HRW said in its World Report 2023.

Countless civilians remain “caught up in conflict with nowhere to turn” due to lax efforts to address the plethora of crises plaguing the continent, said Mausi Segun, HRW’s Africa director.

The HRW report said government troops or non-state armed groups have been connected to atrocities against civilians in at least 15 armed conflicts, including in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Mali, Burkina Faso, and South Sudan.

Authorities in transitional governments, such as Chad and Sudan, have “cracked down on peaceful political dissent and criticism,” the report said.

Violence against government opponents and critics, including activists, opponents, and journalists, was also seen in countries, not under the transitional rule, such as Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, it added.

“The regional efforts to address certain crises in Africa in 2022 have lacked sufficient political will and leadership, leaving countless civilians caught up in conflict with nowhere to turn,” Segun said.

“African governments and regional institutions should publicly denounce the abuses and crackdowns on dissent that plague the continent.”

HRW said “some progress” has been made in ensuring justice for major crimes, with trials started in Guinea and the Central African Republic (CAR), and the International Criminal Court hearing cases of “serious crimes” committed by militia leaders in Sudan and the CAR.

“The best way to ensure effective African solutions to African problems would be for leaders to efficiently deploy the strong instruments at their disposal to protect victims of human rights abuses,” Segun added.

Source: Anadolu Agency