Monday, January 17, 2022

Rights group calls for greater accountability among Sahel governments

Human Rights Watch has released its World Report for 2022, a country-by-country review of human rights in more than 100 states over the past year.

In the HRW report released on Thursday, which at times cited reporting by the VOA, the watchdog group criticizes governments in the western Sahel region and their international partners, including France, the European Union and the US, that the security forces for human rights unwillingness to keep abuses.

Ida Sawyer is the Deputy Director of HRW’s Africa Division.

Sawyer said, “We have seen how international partners have regularly issued statements condemning abuse by Islamic armed groups, but they do not denounce abuse by pro-government forces or publicly investigate allegations of abuse.” are reluctant to put pressure on the national authorities.”

Sawyer said some international partners that have offered military aid to the region have also failed to hold their own armed forces for alleged abuses.

“We have specifically called for a thorough investigation into the allegations that last January a French airstrike in the village of Bounty in central Mali killed 19 civilians,” Sawyer said.

France refuted the findings of a UN report on the incident, saying those killed were fighters and that the report was “biased”.

Meanwhile, the Sahel governments have dismissed HRW’s allegations that their armed forces are committing atrocities. For example, Burkina Faso’s government denied an HRW report in 2020, saying that more than 180 people were executed and buried in a mass grave in the northern city of Jibo.

Mali – and later Niger and Burkina Faso – have been embroiled in conflict with armed groups linked to Islamic State and al-Qaeda since 2012.

According to data from the Armed Conflict Location and Incident Data Project, more than 8,000 civilians died in conflict in those countries during that period.

The report noted that Sahel governments and international partners have taken steps to involve security forces in human rights training.

The report also expresses concern for the human rights of people displaced by conflict. The United Nations refugee agency says there are about 3.5 million displaced people in the western Sahel.

Alexandra Lamarche, Senior Advocate for West and Central Africa at Refugee International, spoke with VOA.

“Many reports of atrocities and human rights violations, including murder, rape, torture and violent persecution on ethnic and religious grounds,” Lamarche said. “All of which promote inter-communal violence and force people to flee their homes and the temporary displacement camps in which they have sought refuge.”

Lamarche said efforts have been made by governments to protect the displaced from such abuse.

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This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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