Torture, executions and other human rights violations are rife in many African countries, according to Amnesty International. The London-based rights group released its annual report on Friday.
Amnesty said unlawful killings, excessive force and torture were among human rights violations documented in countries like Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa and Mozambique.
In South Africa, Amnesty reported numerous cases of torture and ill-treatment by police, including beatings, electric shocks, death threats and suffocation. Many of the cases were investigated by the Independent Complaints Directorate. Last month the police made headlines when they beat and kicked an unarmed protestor who then died after being shot twice with rubber bullets at close range.
In Nigeria’s Delta Region, the situation became worse last year as armed gangs kidnapped oil workers and attacked oil plants. “The reaction from the Nigerian security forces often led to human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions and torture,” the report stated. In other parts of Nigeria, there were numerous cases of unlawful killings, torture by security agencies and enforced disappearances.
In Mozambique, police used live ammunition to disperse people protesting the high cost of living, killing at least 14 in the process.
Although many African countries are abolishing capital punishment, Amnesty noted that death row inmates in Sudan, Somalia and Equatorial Guinea were often executed after unfair trials.
Amnesty is also concerned about violence and increased human rights abuses affecting elections in countries like Ethiopia, Sudan, Burundi, Ivory Coast and Guinea. “In nearly all cases, the human rights violations were committed with total impunity,” the report said.
Following are excerpts of Amnesty’s comments on selected countries from its 2011 “The State of the World’s Human Rights” report. They relate to events in 2010 except where marked * which are drawn from an update to Amnesty’s report covering the period from January to April 2011.
MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA
“Since (mid-March), more than 500 men and women have been detained; at least 40 people were said to be missing and at least four people detained in relation to the protests died in custody in suspicious circumstances. The government said that all deaths were caused by illness.”
“In the lead-up to 14 February (demonstrations), waves of arrests targeted opposition activists. Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi and their wives Zahra Rahnavard and Fatemeh Karoubi were put under house arrest in conditions that for a time amounted to enforced disappearance.”
“Amnesty International researchers on the ground have been investigating numerous reports that attacks by Libyan forces have hit or targeted civilians or were indiscriminate. They have also been looking into the enforced disappearance of hundreds of people since the protests began, and have confirmed that during the protests people were deliberately killed or died as a result of excessive or indiscriminate use of lethal force at the hands of security forces. Amnesty International also uncovered the use of cluster bombs and anti-personnel landmines by pro-Gaddafi forces.”
“About half a million people fled the ongoing conflict in Libya, mostly into Egypt and Tunisia…”
“By 19 April, some 220 people had died during a month of violence, the overwhelming majority apparently as a result of being shot with live ammunition fired by the security forces.”
“Vast demonstrations have rocked Yemen since the beginning of 2011 … At least 120 people have lost their lives and hundreds have been injured as security forces have repeatedly used live ammunition and other, often excessive force to break up demonstrations.”
“Human rights defenders and independent journalists continued to face threats, harassment and attacks, and investigations yielded few concrete results.”
“Violence escalated in Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) following the disputed presidential election in November 2010, resulting in extra-judicial killings, ill treatment, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances and sexual violence — including rape — by both parties.”
“Supporters of rival political parties clashed violently in the run-up to Nigeria’s national parliamentary, presidential and state elections held between 9-28 April. Hundreds of people were killed in politically motivated, communal and sectarian violence, and threats and intimidation also took place.”
“Armed conflict between armed Islamist groups and pro-government forces continued in southern and central Somalia. Thousands of civilians were killed or injured as a result of indiscriminate attacks and generalised violence, and at least 300,000 were displaced during the year.”
“From the end of January onwards, the authorities in Khartoum repressed peaceful demonstrations inspired by events in North Africa. Scores of people were arrested and some still remain in detention where they are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.”
“Conflict-related violence, and attendant human rights violations, increased throughout the country, including in northern and western Afghanistan, areas previously considered relatively safe.”
“In an attempt to pre-empt a Middle East-style uprising, the government widened its crackdown on activists. After an online call on 17 February urged people to stage a ‘Jasmine Revolution’, more than 100 activists, many of them active online, went missing. Others were detained or put under illegal house arrest or surveillance by the government.”
“Ongoing clashes between armed Maoists and state security forces escalated in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal. More than 350 people were killed in bomb attacks in those states and in ethnically motivated attacks in Assam and other states.”
“Widespread violations of human rights continued, including severe restrictions on freedom of association, expression and movement, arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment resulting in death, and executions.”
“The Sri Lankan government failed to effectively address impunity for past human rights violations, and continued to subject people to enforced disappearances and torture and other ill-treatment.”
“Guerrilla groups, paramilitaries and the security forces were responsible for serious and widespread human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes.”
“Thousands of people were abducted and killed by criminal gangs. Police and military forces deployed to combat gangs were responsible for grave human rights violations.”
“Scores of men remained in indefinite military detention in Guantanamo as President Obama’s one-year deadline for closure of the facility there came and went.”