Thursday, May 24, 2012

Amnesty International Report

Many of the underlying factors which led to the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East also exist in other parts of Africa. They include authoritarian rulers who have been in power for decades and rely on a security apparatus to clamp down on dissent. Poverty and corruption are widespread, there is a lack of basic freedoms, and large groups are often marginalized from mainstream society. The brutal suppression of demonstrations during 2011 illustrated how the region's political leaders learned little from what happened in the North Africa. Inspired

The popular movements across North Africa resonated with people in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in countries with repressive governments. Trade unionists, students and opposition politicians were inspired to organize demonstrations. People took to the streets because of their political aspirations, the quest for more freedom, and a deep frustration with a life in poverty. They protested against their desperate social and economic situation and the rise in living costs. Rapid urbanization means that many Africans live without adequate housing, often in slums, where they lack the most basic facilities and are at constant risk of forced eviction by the authorities. People who are forcibly evicted often lose their belongings when their homes are destroyed. Many also lose their livelihood, which pushes them further into poverty. Thousands of people were affected when mass forced evictions took place in at least five informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya. Hundreds of people were forcibly evicted from a settlement in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. Forced evictions also continued in N'Djamena, Chad, and in different parts of Angola.

by events in North Africa, anti-government protesters took to the streets in Khartoum and other towns across Sudan. In Uganda, opposition politicians called on people to imitate the Egyptian protests and take to the streets, but violence marred the demonstrations. The Ugandan government banned all public protests. In Zimbabwe, a group of about 45 activists were arrested in February, merely for discussing events in North Africa. Six of them were initially charged with treason. In April, the Swaziland authorities repressed similar protests with excessive force. Security forces used live ammunition against anti-government protesters in Angola, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and South Sudan, resulting in many casualties. The authorities usually failed to investigate the excessive use of force and nobody was held to account for the deaths caused. Human rights defenders, journalists and political opponents in most African countries continued to be arbitrarily arrested and detained, beaten, threatened and intimidated. Some were killed by armed groups or government security forces. Governments tried to control publicly available information in Burundi, the DRC, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Madagascar, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. They placed restrictions on reporting certain events, closed down or temporarily suspended radio stations, blocked specific websites or banned the publication of certain newspapers.

Many human rights violations committed by security and law enforcement forces remained unaddressed. The authorities hardly ever initiated independent and impartial investigations in reported cases of arbitrary arrests and detention; torture or other ill-treatment; unlawful killings, including extrajudicial executions; and enforced disappearances. Only very rarely were individuals held to account for committing human rights violations. As a result, people have lost confidence in law enforcement agencies and the judiciary in many countries in the region. Impunity for human rights violations by law enforcement officers was pervasive in Burundi, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, DRC, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The number of people in pre-trial detention remained very high, as most countries' justice systems could not guarantee a fair trial without undue delay. Many people arrested had no access to legal representation. Detention conditions remained appalling in many countries, with overcrowding, a lack of access to basic sanitation facilities, health care, water or food, and a lack of prison staff. Detention conditions often fell below minimum international standards and constituted inhuman, cruel and degrading treatment or punishment.

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