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Amnesty predicts further instability in Africa in 2015


GLOBAL human rights advocate, Amnesty International, has predicted a year of further instability across Africa in 2015, especially in the West and Central African States, which have lately been affected by terrorism and the attendant rising number of refugees.

  In its annual report released on Tuesday along with forecast of human rights trends for the coming year, Amnesty International noted that under a situation where perpetrators of human rights violence are not brought to justice, and in the face of increased availability of arms and weapons both to security agents and armed groups, repression of freedom of expression and lack of justice and accountability are likely to continue.

  The group also predicted the use of draconian anti-terror laws by some states but called on governments to stop pretending that the protection of civilians is beyond them. 

  According to a statement issued on the report, Amnesty International is of the view that such draconian anti-terror laws may also harm civilians, especially in countries where security agencies have been reported to violate human rights.

  “World leaders must act urgently to confront the changing nature of conflict and protect civilians from horrific violence by states and armed groups. 2014 was a catastrophic year for millions caught up in violence. The global response to conflict and abuses by states and armed groups has been shameful and ineffective. As people suffered an escalation in barbarous attacks and repression, the international community has been found wanting,” said Secretary General of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty.

  Describing terrorism as the worst challenge of our time, Amnesty International stated that in West and Central Africa, human rights are being violated and violators have continued to evade justice while the region is moving towards further conflict and instability with tens of thousands of people suffering as a result. 

  “A lethal cocktail of conflict, repression and impunity is pushing large parts of West and Central Africa towards greater instability. Whether committed by Boko Haram, the Nigerian security forces, anti-balaka or Seleka, human rights violations and abuses should not go unpunished if the region is to find peace and security,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International’s regional director for West and Central Africa. 

   “Governments should not silence the voices of their people or blunt the pens of journalists. From the peaceful protestors shot dead in Burkina Faso to the journalists imprisoned in The Gambia, it is all too easy to see what happens when freedom of expression is not protected.” 

  Giving an overview of 2014, the report stated that many African countries saw a significant deterioration of their security situation but the underlying causes of much of the violence remains unaddressed. 

“Repressive state policies, poverty, inequality, marginalisation and exclusion have created fertile ground for further conflict and instability in 2015. The increasing power of radical armed groups and the continued proliferation of small arms are a particular danger in the region”, the report read.

  “As the influence of groups such as Boko Haram, IS and Al-Shabaab spills over national borders, more civilians will be forced to live under their quasi-state control, subject to abuse, persecution and discrimination,” said Anna Neistat, senior director for Research at Amnesty International.  

  “Governments must stop pretending the protection of civilians is beyond their power and help roll back the tide of suffering of millions. Leaders must embrace a fundamental change in the way they respond to crises”.

  The report also touched on Syria, Iraq, Gaza, Israel and Ukraine, where it says the UN Security Council (UNSC) has failed to deal with crises and conflicts, even in situations where horrific crimes are being committed against civilians by states or by armed groups, based on vested interests or political expediency.  

   Amnesty International, therefore, called for the five permanent UN Security Council members to renounce their veto rights in situations of genocide and other mass atrocities.  

  “This could be a game changer for the international community and the tools it has at its disposal to help protect civilian lives. By renouncing their veto rights, the five permanent members of the Security Council would give the UN more scope to take action to protect civilians when lives are at grave risk and send a powerful signal to perpetrators that the world will not sit idly by while mass atrocities take place,” said Shetty.   

  According to the report, the legacy of the flooding of weapons into countries where they are used for grave abuses by states and armed groups claimed tens of thousands of civilian lives in 2014, compelling Amnesty International to call on all States, including U.S., China, Canada, India, Israel and Russia to ratify or accede, and adhere, to the Arms Trade Treaty, which came into force last year after decades of campaigning by Amnesty International and others. 

  “Huge arms shipments were delivered to Iraq, Israel, Russia, South Sudan and Syria in 2014 despite the very high likelihood that these weapons would be used against civilian populations trapped in conflict. When IS took control of large parts of Iraq, it found large arsenals, ripe for the picking. The irresponsible flow of weapons to human rights abusers must stop now,” said Anna Neistat.  

  Amnesty International also urged governments to ensure their response to security threats do not undermine fundamental human rights or fuel further violence.

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