News / Africa

    HRW: Crises in South Sudan, CAR, Provoke Abuses

    FILE - Muslim men organized in militias with machetes rough up a Christian man while checking him for weapons in the Miskine neighbourhood of Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 13, 2013.
    FILE - Muslim men organized in militias with machetes rough up a Christian man while checking him for weapons in the Miskine neighbourhood of Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 13, 2013.
    Crises in South Sudan and the Central African Republic led to some of the worst human rights abuses in Africa last year, says New York-based Human Rights Watch in its annual report. The report, released Tuesday in Johannesburg, also found that gays and lesbians are under severe threat in several countries.

    Violence and gross human rights abuses in South Sudan and the Central African Republic top what human rights advocates say has been a “worrying” year for human rights in Africa.

    A rebel coalition took control of the capital of the Central African Republic in March, forcing out the president.  That coup opened the door for rebels -- among them, forcefully recruited child soldiers - to commit widespread rights abuses and indiscriminate killing of civilians. 

    South Sudan also saw bloodshed and rights abuses in its second full year of independence.  In December, violence erupted when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of attempting a coup, a charge Machar has denied.  Since then, the conflict has spiraled into a mix of military clashes and ethnic violence that has displaced an estimated half-million people.

    Women carry the body of a civilian killed in the center of Malakal, Upper Nile State in South Sudan, Jan. 21, 2014.Women carry the body of a civilian killed in the center of Malakal, Upper Nile State in South Sudan, Jan. 21, 2014.
    x
    Women carry the body of a civilian killed in the center of Malakal, Upper Nile State in South Sudan, Jan. 21, 2014.
    Women carry the body of a civilian killed in the center of Malakal, Upper Nile State in South Sudan, Jan. 21, 2014.
    A senior U.N. human rights official said Monday that “thousands” of people have been killed in the violence and some of the rights violations may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    Tiseke Kasambala, Southern Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, called on forces in South Sudan to bring the conflict under control.

    “We are calling on commanders to take necessary measures in the South Sudan to ensure their forces act in accordance with humanitarian law and take appropriate and prompt disciplinary action against those members who commit violations,” said Kasambala.

    Kasambala also cited impunity as a problem on the continent, condemning the African Union for trying to protect Kenya’s president from prosecution at the International Criminal Court for his alleged role in orchestrating violence after Kenya's 2007 presidential election. 

    And across the continent, rights advocates said, things seemed to be getting worse for gays, lesbians and transgendered citizens. 

    Graeme Reid, the organization’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Director, said the governments of Cameroon and Uganda were among the worst offenders when it came to gay rights.  He also described Nigeria’s recently passed law prohibiting same-sex marriages as “a dangerous piece of legislation.”

    “Organizations are lobbying for social space for the rights of the LGBT people, legal reform access to social services and for attitudinal change, and I think what we see is a backlash against that,” he said.

    Reid also offered criticism for South Africa, the only nation on the continent that allows gay marriage and constitutionally protects the rights of gays and lesbians.  He said South Africa has failed in many instances to protect this population against attacks and to prosecute homophobic crimes.

    Kasambala also noted that while South Africa’s constitution was widely regarded as exemplary for its human rights protection, police brutality remained a cause for concern.

    In 2012, South African police shot and killed  34 miners who held an illegal strike.  Kasambala said that was hardly the only instance of police misconduct. 

    “The recent event in which two people were killed and one was allegedly thrown from the police vehicle is an increasing, disturbing pattern of violent police conduct in South Africa and this is something that needs to be seriously addressed in the coming year,” said Kasambala.

    The 667-page World Report reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries, and calls on governments to end the culture of impunity and prioritize the protection of the rights of all their citizens.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora