For Immediate Release
US: Clinton Should Stress Human Rights on Africa Trip
Seven-Nation Visit Should Urge Accountability and the Rule of Law
NEW YORK - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should emphasize human rights
on her seven-nation trip to Africa, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Clinton.
The 11-day trip, to begin on August 4, will take Clinton to Kenya,
South Africa, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Liberia,
and Cape Verde. While in Kenya, Clinton will also meet with the
president of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government.
In the letter, Human Rights Watch called on Clinton to urge the power-sharing Kenyan government to hold accountable those responsible for human rights abuses
committed in the aftermath of the December 2007 elections and to
implement urgently needed reforms of Kenya's security and justice
"Kenyans are losing faith in their politicians," said Georgette
Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "The government's
failure to ensure justice for the victims of the post-election violence
threatens to undermine Kenya's stability and impede its economic
Clinton should encourage Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed to support the establishment of a commission of inquiry into serious crimesSomalia, home to one of the most acute human rights and humanitarian crises on the continent, Human Rights Watch said. by all the warring parties in
In South Africa, she should urge the new government
of President Jacob Zuma to play a more proactive role on foreign policy
matters on the continent, particularly in pressing for human rights
reforms by its neighbor, Zimbabwe, where the army continues to commit
abuses with impunity, including in the eastern diamond fields of Marange.
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Clinton should call on the Angolan government to
rein in its armed forces and ensure that they abide by international
human rights and humanitarian law in Cabinda, Angola's oil-rich
enclave, where Human Rights Watch has documented arbitrary detention and torture,
and in Lunda Norte, a diamond-rich area on the Congolese border, where
Human Rights Watch has recently found pillaging, arbitrary detention,
and rape in the process of the mass expulsions of migrants.
Human Rights Watch also called on Clinton, while in the Democratic Republic of Congo,
to urge the prosecution of all military personnel, regardless of rank,
who have committed serious human rights abuses, particularly sexual violence.
In the past 11 years, tens of thousands of girls and women in eastern
Congo have been raped. While some low-ranking soldiers have been
prosecuted for such offenses, not one senior commander has been brought
In Nigeria, Clinton should denounce corruption and mismanagement of natural resources, which deny Nigerians basic rights to the highest attainable standard of health and education, Human Rights Watch said.
And in Liberia, Clinton should stress the
importance of fair, credible prosecutions for the most serious crimes
committed during Liberia's armed conflicts, and urge the government of
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to establish commissions that would
promote reforms in key areas such as human rights, the rule of law, and
land disputes, which were at the root of Liberia's conflicts.
"The US rightly wants to promote Africa as a place of great
opportunity, but Africans will be unable to realize their potential if
their human rights are denied," Gagnon said. "Secretary Clinton should
make this connection clear."
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Human Rights Watch is one of the world's leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, we give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Our rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For 30 years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.