Category Archives: Human rights

Burkina-Faco: President Compaore sentenced

Brussels 06.04.2022 Burkina Faso’s former President Blaise Compaore was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for complicity in the 1987 murder of his predecessor Thomas Sankar a in a coup d’état, a military tribunal ruled on Wednesday, April 6.

Burkina Faso’s former President Blaise Compaoré has received a life sentence in absentia for his role in the assassination of his charismatic predecessor, Thomas Sankara. Sankara, 37, was gunned down along with 12 others during the 1987 coup d’état that brought Compaoré to power.

The pair had been close friends and had jointly seized power in 1983. Sankara remains a hero for many across Africa because of his anti-imperialist stance and austere lifestyle.

After seizing power at the age of just 33, the Marxist revolutionary known by some as “Africa’s Che Guevara”, campaigned against corruption and oversaw huge increases in education and health spending.

Ethiopia: UN Human Rights commission

Brussels 18.12.2021 Following a resolution presented by the European Union the United Nations Human Rights Council will establish an international commission of human rights experts on Ethiopia. An important step forward to ensure accountability of the perpetrators and justice for the victims” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

A joint investigation by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the UN Human Rights Office has found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that all parties to the conflict in Tigray have, to varying degrees, committed violations of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law, some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In a report published on December 3, which examines the devastating impact the conflict has had on civilians, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) details a series of violations and abuses, including unlawful killings and extra-judicial executions, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, violations against refugees, and forced displacement of civilians.

The report covers the period from 3 November 2020, when the armed conflict began between the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF), the Eritrean Defence Force (EDF), the Amhara Special Forces (ASF), the Amhara Fano and other militias on one side, and the Tigrayan Special Forces (TSF), Tigrayan militia and other allied groups on the other, until 28 June 2021 when the Ethiopian Government declared a unilateral ceasefire.

The JIT visited several locations, including Mekelle, Eastern Tigray (Wukro), Southeastern Tigray (Samre and nearby areas), Southern Tigray ( Alamata, Bora and Maichew), Western Tigray (Dansha, Humera and Mai Kadra), and Bahir Dar and Gondar in the Amhara region, as well as Addis Ababa. The JIT conducted 269 confidential interviews with victims and witnesses of alleged violations and abuses, and other sources; and held over 60 meetings with federal and regional officials, representatives of international organisations, NGOs, community-based committees, medical personnel, and other sources.

The JIT faced several security, operational, and administrative challenges in carrying out its work, in particular being unable to carry out all planned visits to parts of Tigray. The report acknowledges with gratitude the many victims and witnesses who shared their experiences with the JIT, and thanks the Ethiopian and non-governmental entities for their cooperation.

“As the conflict expands with more reports of violations and abuses, this report presents an opportunity for all parties to acknowledge responsibility and commit to concrete measures on accountability, redress for victims and the search for a sustainable solution to end the suffering of millions,” said Daniel Bekele, Chief Commissioner of the EHRC. “EHRC remains engaged in monitoring the human rights situation since end of June and will be sharing its findings in due course,” Bekele said.

“The Tigray conflict has been marked by extreme brutality. The gravity and seriousness of the violations and abuses we have documented underscore the need to hold perpetrators accountable on all sides,” said Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“As the conflict has escalated, with civilians as ever caught in the middle, it is vital that all parties heed the repeated calls to end hostilities and seek a lasting ceasefire,” said Bachelet, who is today also issuing a separate update on developments since the June cut-off date of the joint report.

Cameroon: MEPs concern about human rights

Strasbourg 26.11.2021 MEPs are deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Cameroon. The adopted European Parliament resolution notes that the country is facing a number of political and security challenges simultaneously, including threats from terrorist group Boko Haram in its Far North region and an internal armed separatist rebellion, which has been ongoing for almost five years in its Anglophone Northwest and Southwest regions. The latter conflict between militias and state authorities has so far killed thousands of people, witnessed heinous abuses, and led to a full-blown humanitarian crisis in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions.

Parliament urges both the Cameroonian government and the political and military leaders of separatist groups to agree on a humanitarian ceasefire and encourages the parties to the conflict to agree on confidence-building measures, such as freeing non-violent political prisoners and lifting school boycotts. MEPs call on President Paul Biya’s government and the Anglophone separatists to immediately re-initiate peace talks, while pleading for the international community, especially the African Union, Central African states and the EU, to help facilitate dialogue by offering to take on a mediation role.

The resolution also calls on the Cameroonian authorities to stop bringing people to trial before military tribunals, in particular civilians, predetermining outcomes and imposing the death penalty, which is unlawful under international human rights law. MEPs remind Cameroon that it must uphold the right of all citizens to a fair trial before independent courts of law and recall that military courts should not have jurisdiction over the civilian population.

The text was adopted by 614 votes in favour, 32 against and 40 abstentions.

Sudan: EU condemns violence

Brussels 14.10.2021 “With reference to the joint statement of the Troika, EU and Switzerland last Friday, November 12, the EU condemns in the strongest terms the violence perpetrated against peaceful civilian protestors on Saturday 13 November” reads the statement by the EU spokesperson on the latest developments in Sudan.

“We are also very worried about the detention of journalists. Freedom of expression, access to information and ability to communicate are part and parcel of the basic freedoms and universal human rights. We therefore continue to call for the release of all detainees including journalists arrested since 25 October.

“We will hold authorities accountable for violations of human rights and lack of protection of civilians, which has been induced since the end of the democratic transitional process.

“The EU calls upon the military to return to the path of a fair and open dialogue with civilians, as they have done in August 2019, and which has brought the country back into the light from a very dark time.

“The interventions by the military since 25 October last are undoing much of the progress achieved under the civilian-led government, in full respect of the democratic aspirations of the Sudanese population.

“This will have serious consequences for the support of the European Union. This is not what the people of Sudan deserve and demand. Only a return to an inclusive dialogue will guarantee freedom, peace and justice for all in Sudan”.

Nigeria: abducted victims liberation

Brussels 10.09.2021 Nigerian authorities rescue over 200 abduction victims in a week. The security agents have rescued nearly 200 kidnapped people during raids on camps of criminal gangs in dense tropical forest in the country’s northwest, police said.

Heavily armed criminal gangs known locally as bandits have plagued northwest and central Nigeria for years, raiding and looting villages and abducting people for ransom.

Nigeria forces rescue nearly 200 abducted victims in northwest
The 187 victims were freed in Zamfara state, where they had been seized in separate attacks, police say.

The rescue was part of a weeks-long broader military operation in Zamfara and other northwestern states
Nigerian security agents have rescued nearly 200 kidnapped people during raids on camps of criminal gangs in dense forests in the country’s northwest, police said.

Heavily armed criminal gangs known locally as bandits have plagued northwest and central Nigeria for years, raiding and looting villages and abducting for ransom.

The rescued victims, including 187 men, women and children, were freed in Zamfara state, where they had been abducted in separate random attacks, police said late on Thursday, October 8.

Images and video were sent by police to the media showing some exhausted people with torn clothes and struggling to sit as they waited to be transported back to their homes.

“The abducted victims who spent many weeks in captivity were unconditionally rescued following extensive search and rescue operations that lasted for hours,” Zamfara state police spokesman said in a statement.

The rescue was part of a weeks-long broader military operation in Zamfara and other northwestern states that has included intentional telecoms blackouts to disrupt gang’s communications.

The criminal groups, who maintain camps hidden in forests straddling Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Kaduna states, have been increasingly attacking schools where they kidnap pupils for ransom.

Hundreds of schoolchildren have been abducted in mass kidnappings since December. Most have been freed or released after ransoms were paid but dozens are still being held.

Schools have become targets for mass kidnappings for ransom in northern Nigeria by various armed groups. Such kidnappings in Nigeria were first carried out by jihadist group Boko Haram, and later its offshoot Islamic State West Africa Province, but nowadays the tactic has been adopted by other criminal gangs.

The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said that 1 million Nigerian children could miss school this year as the new term begins amid a rise in mass school kidnappings and insecurity.

Uganda welcomes Afghan refugees

Brussels 27.08.2021 The first group of 51 refugees from Afghanistan has arrived in Uganda.The group landed at Entebbe International Airport aboard a private chartered flight on Wednesday morning, August 25, Uganda’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ministry says the group is transiting through Uganda and will move on to the US and other countries.
It is not clear for how long they will be hosted in Uganda.

The evacuees include men, women and children who have undergone Covid-19 testing and will go into quarantine, the statement says.The evacuation followed the US government’s request to Uganda to take in some of the people fleeing the crisis in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover.

Last week, a Ugandan junior government official said that Uganda was to take in 2,000 Afghan refugees at the request of the US government, but several senior officials later indicated that the discussions on the issue were still under way.

Uganda hosts more than one million refugees who have fled several conflicts and other disasters across eastern Africa.

ICC: Uganda Ongwen-victim and villain

04.02.2021 The Hague, The Netherlands: War crimes judges deliver their verdict in the case of Dominic Ongwen, a Ugandan child soldier turned top field commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group known for extreme violence and forcing women into sexual slavery.

Ongwen, 45, faces 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity and could be imprisoned for life if convicted. Judges will not address sentencing on Thursday, February 4.

Ongwen’s case is complex because under the law “you have either a victim or a perpetrator and anything in between is very difficult to squeeze in,” said Barbora Hola, senior researcher at the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement.

The ruling at the International Criminal Court (ICC) will be the first dealing with crimes by the LRA, New York-based Human Rights Watch said.

It highlights the difficulty of trying somebody who, as a conscripted child soldier, is both an alleged perpetrator and a victim. His lawyers have asked for acquittal.

Detained in 2015, Ongwen remains in the court’s custody, and his 3.5-year-trial ended in March 2020.

Ongwen’s lawyer insisted that the brutal life in the LRA affected his mental health and his capacity to make independent decisions.

“When Ongwen was abducted he had no option, he was made a slave. That slavery continued until he left the bush,” lawyer Krispus Odongo said to the judges in closing arguments.

But prosecutors countered that Ongwen was an adult at the time of the alleged offences and cannot be excused of responsibility.

Led by fugitive warlord Joseph Kony, the LRA terrorized Ugandans for nearly two decades as it battled the government of President Yoweri Museveni from bases in the north of the country and in what is now South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

The case at the ICC focused on 2002-2005, when prosecutors said members of the LRA carried out crimes including murder, rape, sexual slavery, forced marriage, torture, pillaging and the conscription of children under the age of 15 for fighting.

After being abducted by the LRA as a boy, Ongwen worked his way up to a commander, overseeing the Sinia Brigade, one of the group’s four main operational units with up to 800 fighters.

ZAMBIA: EU calls for investigation

Brussels, 24.12.2020 “On Wednesday 23 December, Zambian Police dispersed a large group of supporters of the opposition by use of force. Two people are confirmed to have died. The EU expresses its condolences to their families” says the statement of the spokesperson of the European External Action Service – the official body of the the EU diplomacy.

The Inspector General of Police has committed to investigate the circumstances of these events. The investigation – conducted according to the laws of Zambia – should be comprehensive and open to scrutiny. This is especially important as Zambia approaches an election year, where respect for the Rule of Law and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms will be critical for an inclusive, transparent and credible process.

The EU reaffirms the importance it attaches to its partnership with Zambia, a force for peace and stability in Southern Africa, and with the Zambian people”.

President Buhari “detached” speech

Brussels 23.10.2020 “It is alarming to learn that several people have been killed and injured during the ongoing protests against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Nigeria” the head of the EU diplomacy Josep Borrell said, reacting upon the events in Lagos. “It is crucial that those responsible of abuses be brought to justice and held accountable. Following the Government’s will to deliver on reforms, we expect to see decisive implementation” the EU diplomat has underlined in his Tweet micro blog.

Meanwhile President Muhammadu Buhari addressed Nigerian on the issue of the unrest that has overwhelmed the country in recent days, but without making any mention of the shootings of peaceful protesters at Lekki toll plaza on Tuesday, October 20, night that caused international outrage.

The military opened fire without warning on thousands of peaceful protesters singing the national anthem in the night, killing at least 12 people, according to Amnesty International.

The shootings have been widely condemned but Buhari did not speak of them at all during his Thursday,October 22 address, instead urging the protestors to stop their actions.

“This government will not allow anybody or (any) groups to disrupt the peace of the nation,” Buhari said in his TV address, urging protesters to “resist the temptation of being used by some subversive elements to cause chaos with the aim of truncating our nascent democracy.”

“For you to do otherwise will amount to undermining national security and law and order,” he said. “Under no circumstances would this be tolerated.”

Buhari called on Nigeria’s youths “to discontinue the street protests and constructively engage the government in finding solutions. Your voice has been heard loud and clear and we are responding.”

The President responded to the criticism he has received from African heads of state and other world leaders by calling on them “to seek to know all the facts available before taking a position, or rushing to judgement and making hasty pronouncements.”

While as Buhari was addressing the nation, irate Nigerians flooded social media with denunciations.

“President Buhari during his speech refused to acknowledge those dead as a result of military attacked on Lekki protesters #EndSARS,” tweeted Usman Okai Austin.

SA: Ramaphosa on farm murders

12.10.2020 South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa urged not to use murders of white farmers to inflame racial tensions by falsely equating them with ethnic cleansing, a week after a farm killing stoked violent protests.

The killing of Brendin Horner, a white farm manager, in Free State province at the start of this month, triggered riots in the town of Senekal. White demonstrators stormed a police station where two Black suspects were being held. Some fired shots and set fire to a police car. farm murders not ethnic cleansing

“What happened in Senekal shows just how easily the tinderbox of race hatred can be ignited,” Ramaphosa said in his weekly message to the country. “We must resist any attempts to use crime on farms to mobilise communities along racial lines.”

Murders of farmers and members of their families, including young children, the vast majority of which are white from European ancestors, are an explosive issue in South Africa, where some white minority activist groups promote the idea that they are victims of a ‘white genocide’ that aims to force landowners to flee.

Farm attacks were discussed by parliament last month. Rural safety analysts at some agricultural organisations had noted a new momentum from government level to combat the problem, but the level of distrust runs deep towards government as well as towards populist political parties who still occasionally employ the apartheid-era chant of “kill the farmer, kill the boer”.

There has long been speculation on the racial nature of these attacks and it has been the subject of a number of studies, which have concluded that robbery is the primary motive.

Many farmers conduct trade on their farms, selling livestock, chickens or vegetables, handling large amounts of cash, which has been a demonstrable motive in some previous farm murders.

Robbers on farms also demand firearms, because farmers are often heavily armed, as well as cell phones and computer equipment.

Last month Tommie Esterhuyse, AgriSA’s chair of the rural safety commission, reiterated in a radio interview that they did not consider farm attacks to be racially targeted killings. He referred to Free State statistics showing 40 to 45% of farm attacks included farm workers (mostly black) as well as black commercial farmers and emerging farmers.

It has been estimated that an average of 58 people are every day killed in South Africa, of whom an unusually large number are women and children.

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