Showing posts with label Security Forces. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Security Forces. Show all posts

Monday, July 25, 2011

Nigerian Joint Military Task Force in random killing in Maiduguri

25 Jul 2011 16:18 Africa/Lagos

Nigeria security forces in random killing following bomb blast

LONDON, July 25, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Nigerian authorities must immediately put a stop to unlawful killings by security forces, Amnesty International said today after at least 23 people were killed by police following a bomb blast on Saturday in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri.

The bomb, allegedly set off by the Islamist group Boko Haram, went off in the Budum market in central Maiduguri and injured three soldiers. According to reports received by Amnesty International, the Nigerian Joint Military Task Force (JTF) responded by shooting and killing a number of people, apparently at random, before burning down the market.

“President Goodluck Jonathan must get a grip on the Nigerian armed forces and immediately prevent them from carrying out further human rights violations and unlawful killings,” said Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Africa.

“The government must now investigate these heinous crimes and put on trial those found to be responsible for the killings. Allowing troops to go on the rampage will not bring to justice those who carry out these terrible bomb attacks on civilians,” he said.

“While staying within the law, the government must step up efforts to bring to justice members of Boko Haram who wreck untold suffering on people in the middle belt.”

One wing of Boko Haram has reportedly disowned the bomb blast, saying it may have been carried out by a splinter group.

The JTF was set up by the federal government in June 2011 to restore order in Borno state. In recent months, Amnesty International has received numerous reports that security forces in Borno state have resorted to unlawful killings, dragnet arrests, arbitrary and unlawful detentions, extortion, and intimidation.

One human rights defender told Amnesty International “Soldiers went on the rampage. They shot several people and burned all their shops and properties and burned their cars.”

Following a bombing in Maiduguri two weeks ago, members of the JTF reportedly threatened to shoot residents if they failed to report planned attacks.

“House to house searches, brutalisation, unlawful arrests, killings and disappearances have been the operating practice in Maiduguri for some months now. Unless steps are taken to ensure security forces operate within the law and respect human rights at all times, the next time Boko Haram attacks or kills a soldier, we are likely to see the same thing happen again,” said Tawanda Hondora.

Thousands of people living in Maiduguri have already left the city; and many more continue to do so.

The JTF have also been accused of raping women during their operations in recent months.

“Allegations of rape of women by members of the JTF have to be investigated and perpetrators brought to justice, “Tawanda Hondora said.

“Survivors of rape and sexual violence must be provided with appropriate support and aftercare,” he added.

Since July 2010, attacks by people believed to be members of the religious sect Boko Haram have increased. More than 250 people have been killed in such attacks, many of which have targeted police officers and government officials.

Several religious leaders have been killed and churches have also been targeted.

Since June 2011, Boko Haram has also attacked bars and beer-gardens, killing scores of people.

Source: Amnesty International

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sudan / Widespread Abuses Bode Ill for Referendum / Hold Security Forces Accountable for Violations in April 2010 Elections

30 Jun 2010 19:55 Africa/Lagos

Sudan / Widespread Abuses Bode Ill for Referendum / Hold Security Forces Accountable for Violations in April 2010 Elections

KARTHOUM, June 30, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Both national and southern Sudanese authorities should investigate human rights abuses connected to its April 2010 elections and bring to justice those responsible, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. Addressing the abuses is especially important as the country prepares for a referendum on self-determination in Southern Sudan, Human Rights Watch said.

The 32-page report, “Democracy on Hold: Rights Violations in the April 2010 Elections,” documents numerous rights violations across Sudan by both northern and southern authorities in the period leading up to, during, and following the April elections. These abuses include restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly, particularly in northern Sudan, and widespread intimidation, arbitrary arrests, and physical violence against monitors and opponents of the incumbent parties by Sudanese security forces across the country. The report is based on research carried out between November 2009 and April 2010 in Khartoum and Southern Sudan.

“The national elections were an important milestone of the 2005 peace agreement, which was meant to pave the way forward for Sudan,” said Rona Peligal, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “But pushing the elections-related abuses under the rug would not bode well for the referendum coming up in January.”

The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended 22 years of civil war between northern and southern forces, called for Sudan to hold national elections and a referendum on southern self-determination. Southern Sudanese, including more than 1.5 million southerners living in Khartoum and northern states, will decide in the January 2011 vote whether to secede from the north.

Human Rights Watch called on the national unity government to enact genuine reforms called for in the peace agreement, including improvements to the national security apparatus. The national security law currently grants broad powers of search, seizure, and arrest, and allows for detention without judicial review for up to four and a half months, in violation of international law.

Human Rights Watch found that in the months leading up to the April elections the ruling National Congress Party suppressed peaceful assembly by opposition party members in the north and prevented free association and speech. During election week, there were fewer cases of such restrictions, but several cases of harassment, intimidation, and arrest of opposition members and elections observers.

In Southern Sudan, Human Rights Watch documented widespread intimidation, arbitrary arrest, detention, and mistreatment of opponents of the southern ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), as well as of election observers and voters, throughout the elections process in several southern states.

In addition to these rights violations, serious irregularities in the conduct of the election – such as multiple voting, ballot-stuffing, and other acts of fraud – undermined their legitimacy.

On April 26, the elections commission declared both ruling parties the winners in their regions following the vote-counting. Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur, was re-elected president of the national unity government.

In the weeks following the April elections, Human Rights Watch documented a worsening human rights situation across Sudan, with renewed repression in the north, incidents of elections-related violence in the south, and ongoing conflict in Darfur.

Human Rights Watch also called on Sudan to cooperate with the International Criminal Court, as required under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1593.

“The elections were supposed to help expand democracy in Sudan, but they have had the opposite effect,” Peligal said. “The electoral victory has essentially emboldened the ruling parties, particularly in the north, to crack down on opponents, activists, and journalists.”

The post-election crackdown in Khartoum included the May 15 arrest and detention of the opposition figure Hassan al-Turabi and of journalists, the arrest of Darfuri students, and the resumption of pre-print censorship leading to the suspension of three newspapers.

In early June, security forces violently repressed a peaceful demonstration by Sudanese doctors striking for better wages and working conditions, and detained six doctors without charge until June 24, when the doctors called off the strike. Two of them were subjected to physical mistreatment by national security officials.

In Southern Sudan, simmering disputes over election results between the ruling party and independent candidates have led to clashes between armed forces. In Jonglei state, for example, forces loyal to General George Athor, who unsuccessfully ran for state governor, have clashed with the southern army on multiple occasions since the results were announced. Vote-rigging and intimidation during the elections have led to anger and frustration in the south.

In Darfur, where many communities boycotted the elections process, the Sudanese government continues to carry out armed attacks on rebel factions and civilians, using both aerial bombs and ground forces. In May, this violence caused the highest death tolls in two years.

“Democracy on Hold” also examines the reaction of the international community to the widespread abuses during the elections. The report highlights how political considerations related to efforts to carry out the 2005 agreement, in particular the referendum, have made many international actors reluctant to criticize Sudan's human rights record.

“Sudan's international partners have a critical role to play in urging Sudanese authorities to end impunity for abuses,” Peligal said. “Timid silence on their part will both jeopardize the prospects for a peaceful and meaningful referendum and derail the democratic transformation envisioned by the peace agreement.”

Source: Human Right Watch (HRW)

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