News / Africa

HRW Calls for Summit to Focus on Human Rights

Representatives from various African nations gather at the opening session at the AGOA Forum during the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington August 4, 2014. REUTERS/Gary Cameron (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS) - RTR416GJRepresentatives from various African nations gather at the opening session at the AGOA Forum during the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington August 4, 2014. REUTERS/Gary Cameron (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS) - RTR416GJ
x
Representatives from various African nations gather at the opening session at the AGOA Forum during the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington August 4, 2014. REUTERS/Gary Cameron (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS) - RTR416GJ
Representatives from various African nations gather at the opening session at the AGOA Forum during the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington August 4, 2014. REUTERS/Gary Cameron (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS) - RTR416GJ

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is calling on U.S. President Barack Obama to ensure that human rights concerns are a major focus of this week’s U.S. African Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.

HRW says at least a dozen of the 50 African heads of state attending the event lead repressive governments that have imprisoned journalists, human rights defenders, and anti-corruption campaigners. 

“The concern about not including human rights more prominently is that human rights issues are closely inter-woven with all of these goals,” says Leslie Lefkow is the deputy for Africa at Human Rights Watch in Amsterdam.

Lefkow said the main headlines of the summit highlight security and development goals, but these goals cannot be achieved without putting human rights in the forefront of discussions.

“You cannot really have sustainable development and stability and security without fundamental respect for human rights - the rule of law, strong institutions and dependent institutions,” explained Lefkow.

She said the Washington, D.C. summit is ignoring one of the key criteria to reaching many of the goals that it has set out to reach.

“Many, many people across the African continent were galvanized by President Obama’s speech in Accra, Ghana five years ago, when he said Africa needs strong institutions and not strong men,” said Lefkow. “The disappointment is that rhetoric has not translated into concrete policy changes by the U.S. government.”

The HRW deputy said as the summit is occurring,  there is heightened concern in the human rights community that alarming human rights violations are sweeping across Africa.

“The hope is that President Obama himself and some of the events will focus on human rights a little bit more than their agendas suggest. But I think we are going to have to wait and see if that really happens in practice,” said Lefkow.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs