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

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Goghi
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid