Amnesty International has released its annual report, which says, “Powerful governments and armed groups are deliberately fomenting fear to erode human rights.” It says the result is an “increasingly polarized and dangerous world.” VOA’s Joe De Capua tells us what Amnesty International has to say about Africa.
Tawanda Hondora, the group’s deputy director of the Africa Program, gives an overview of the report’s findings.
“Governments all over the world and also particularly in Africa are using fear to sustain or maintain an environment where human rights violations are committed, mostly by governments, but also by non-state actors, including armed opposition groups. And this can be seen in Africa when one looks at countries such as Zimbabwe. Countries like Sudan with the conflict that’s continuing in that region, also the neighboring country of Chad,” he says.
Amnesty calls the crisis in Darfur “a bleeding wound on world conscience.”
“The conflict in Darfur, which has resulted in the mass displacement of over two-point-five-million people, the deaths reported of over 200,000 people – some statistics put it as high as 400,000 people that have died – without a solution in sight. It’s the reason why Amnesty is extremely concerned about the continued violation of human rights in that region of Sudan. Current and ongoing negotiations and diplomatic maneuverings to address the situation have not resulted in much,” Hondora says.
He says Zimbabwe is another example where the “politics of fear” is able to flourish through an absence of the rule of law.
“You have arbitrary arrests and detentions of human rights activists, as well as political opposition individuals. There are reports of torture being used, particularly by state agents against, again, human rights defenders, as well as political opposition parties. And that is of concern to Amnesty International, including some of their laws, which violate the right to freedom of expression, association,” he says.
He says Zimbabwe and other countries also embarked on the evictions of thousands of people.
“The situation of evictions is not just a phenomenon that’s found in Zimbabwe. They’re also found in countries like Mozambique, like Nigeria, like Kenya. And it is because governments around the region in Africa are not paying adequate attention to the rule of law, putting in place adequate safeguards to ensure the people are not forcibly evicted. And that in the event that they are evicted that they are provided with adequate alternative accommodation and compensated,” he says.
Amnesty International’s annual report also says the divide between Muslims and non-Muslims has “deepened.”
Hondora says, “I think that can be seen in particularly in countries in Africa such as Nigeria, where there is increasing inter-ethnic, inter-religious, inter-communal fighting or conflict that’s been witnessed. The many factors that have influenced this development or at least the increasing incidents of this kind of conflict. Some of them may actually relate to the ongoing war on terror.”
Hondora says some positive developments in Africa include the handing over of former Liberian leader Charles Taylor to the Special Court for Sierra Leone - and the indictment of Thomas Lubanga by the International Criminal Court. Lubanga is accused of recruiting child soldiers in the DRC.