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Oral Statement by Amnesty International Item 4: Human Rights Situation in Africa

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Index: AFR 01/003/2014

Chairperson, Honourable Commissioners,

Amnesty International welcomes this opportunity to address the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) on the state of the situation of human rights in Africa.

The 55th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights is taking place against a backdrop both of continuing and escalating conflicts in Africa and a failure to hold perpetrators accountable for past crimes under international law. Amnesty International would like to bring to the Commission’s attention the broader context of conflict threats and human rights violations in Africa as well as the dire situation in three specific countries: Central African Republic, South Sudan and Nigeria. Amnesty International calls for a more active role for the Commission in responding to the conflict crisis in the continent.

The situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) has deteriorated significantly since December 2013 leading to a complete breakdown of law and order and unprecedented level of sectarian violence resulting in human rights abuses and crimes under international law against civilians, including grave breaches of international humanitarian law, crimes against humanity and war crimes (collectively referred to as crimes under international law). Amnesty International has documented the deliberate and large-scale killings of civilians, including women and children. Thousands of people have been forcibly displaced from their homes and are now living in makeshift camps across the country in poor conditions. Others, especially Muslims, were brutally forced by the mostly Christian anti-balaka militias to flee the country. There have been numerous cases of torture; enforced disappearances; rape and other forms of sexual violence. The recruitment and use of children by armed groups continues unabated. Houses, villages and mosques have been looted, demolished and burnt down. Amnesty International is concerned about the dire humanitarian situation of refugees from CAR in neighbouring countries as well as the precarious situation in which internally displaced people find themselves within the country.

Despite the deployment of peacekeeping troops from the International Support Mission to Central Africa (MISCA) and the French Sangaris military operation, human rights abuses and crimes under international law continue to take place in CAR. There is on-going lack of accountability for human rights abuses and crimes under international law, the transitional authorities and neighbouring countries continue to fail to arrest, investigate and prosecute perpetrators of these crimes. This continues to send a message to perpetrators that there will be no punishment for crimes under international law or human rights abuses.