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

Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurdish Leader: Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid