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

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More