Widespread human rights violations across Africa, Amnesty
London, 28 may.-(ANA) - Unless governments address impunity in a serious manner the
widespread human rights violations across Africa will continue, according to Amnesty International’s annual report 2009 published in London.
At the moment, those who abuse others’ rights can continue to do so freely. Occasionally, after large-scale human rights violations, commissions of inquiry or other types of investigative panels are set up, but they are oftenmore to appease public opinion than to establish the truth and identify those responsible.
In Chad, a national commission of inquiry into hundreds of killings and other human rights violations in February 2008 published its report in September – no action was taken by the government to implement its recommendations.
A commission of inquiry set up in Guinea to investigate human rights violations committed in 2006 and 2007 did not conduct any investigations.
In Liberia, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission concluded its public hearings and its findings were pending by the end of the year.
The commission of inquiry in Kenya, set up to investigate the post-election violence,
made its findings public in October. Even though the government pledged to implement the recommendations in the report it had not, by the end of the year, put in place a comprehensive plan of action to do so.
Unfortunately, governments often use commissions of inquiry, or truth and reconciliation commissions, as surrogates for judicial inquiries, which are essential for establishing individual criminal responsibility.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) continued to pursue a number of cases from Africa. The application by the ICC Prosecutor for an arrest warrant to be issued against President Omar Al Bashir of Sudan for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide triggered efforts to undermine the work of the ICC by various states and regional bodies, including the African Union (AU).
The AU, the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference called on the UN Security Council to defer the case. On the initiative of Rwanda,
the AU adopted a decision criticizing what it called the abuse of universal jurisdiction.
While the ICC continued to pursue a number of cases fromAfrica, it can only prosecute a limited number of individuals. It is essential that national jurisdictions also investigate and prosecute those suspected of being responsible for crimes under international law,
including by exercising universal jurisdiction. Regrettably, Senegal has onlymade limited progress in the case of former Chadian President Hissène Habré, indicating a lack of political will to initiate serious investigations.
On a ore positive note, the AU adopted the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights in July. Once operational, the Court could contribute to ending impunity in Africa if AU ember states agree to allow victims of human rights violations to approach the Court directly for an effective remedy. (ANA)