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Widespread Human Rights Abuses in Africa, says Amnesty International - 2003-05-28

Amnesty International, in its annual report released Wednesday says human rights abuses are particularly serious throughout much of Africa. The group is spotlighting problems it says receive too little attention.

Amnesty International says some of the worst injustices in 2002 took place in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, and Liberia, where armed conflicts took thousands of lives and livelihoods.

Executive director of Amnesty International in the United States, Bill Schulz, says the situation is particularly bad in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where nearly 4.5 million people have been killed. Yet the conflict receives little media attention.

"Just last month almost 1,000 civilians were massacred, news that stayed off the front page," he said. "Murder, rape, torture and genocide are routinely inflicted on defenseless and impoverished people."

Amnesty says government forces in nations including Ethiopia, Burundi, and Rwanda are suspected of kidnapping or carrying out executions without trial and state authorities in Eritrea, Kenya, Nigeria and Zimbabwe have subjected people to torture.

Of particular concern is a general amnesty applied to all military crimes in Angola after a cease-fire agreement. The report says the law could provide a shield for human rights abuses.