Africa 2019
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Africa 2019

As the deadline closed in for regional political commitments to “Silencing the Guns” by 2020, intractable armed conflicts continued, and new forms of violence by non-state actors led to widespread killings, torture, abductions, sexual violence and mass displacements, including crimes under international law, in several sub-Saharan African countries.

Protracted conflicts in the Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan and South Sudan continued to simmer, with indiscriminate and targeted attacks on civilians. Armed groups in Cameroon, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia and elsewhere committed abuses, including killings and abductions, which caused mass displacements. State security forces often replied with serious human rights violations such as extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture.

These conflicts and insecurity – together with new forms of communal violence that emerged in countries like Ethiopia – were brutal reminders that Africa is a long way from breaking its deadly cycle of armed conflicts and violence.

 

Often what have been silenced are not the guns – but justice and accountability for crimes and other serious human rights violations. From Nigeria to South Sudan, countless victims of serious crimes and abuses did not see justice and reparations.

The year was also marked by widespread repression of dissent – including crackdowns on peaceful protests, and attacks on media, human rights defenders and political opponents. In over 20 countries, people were denied their right to peaceful protest, including through unlawful bans, use of excessive force, harassment and arbitrary arrests.

In two thirds of the countries monitored, governments heavily restricted freedom of expression – with some particularly clamping down on journalists, bloggers, civil society groups, and political opponents, including in the context of elections.

These violations unfolded in a context of failures to protect and fulfil economic, social and cultural rights. Forced evictions without compensation continued in countries including Eswatini, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Large-scale commercial land acquisitions impacted livelihoods of thousands in Angola. Access to health care and education – already dire across the continent – was further exacerbated by conflicts in some counties including Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Mali.

Yet across Africa, ordinary people, activists and human rights defenders took to the streets. From Khartoum to Harare and from Kinshasa to Conakry, peaceful protesters braved bullets and beatings to defend the rights that their leaders would not. And sometimes, the consequences were game changing – major transformations in political systems and opening space for profound institutional reforms, such as in Sudan and Ethiopia.

Armed conflict and violence

Africa is still home to some of the world’s most intractable conflicts, and armed conflicts were ongoing including in CAR, DRC, Cameroon, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan. In these and countries like in Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia and Mozambique, attacks by armed groups and communal violence led to deaths, displacements and injuries. Responses by state security forces were marked by widespread human rights violations and crimes under international law.

Indiscriminate and targeted attacks on civilians

In Darfur, Sudanese government forces and allied militias carried out unlawful killings, sexual violence, systematic looting, and forced displacements. The destruction of at least 45 villages in Jebel Marra continued into February, and by May over 10,000 people had been forced to flee.

In South Sudan, civilians were killed in sporadic clashes between government and armed forces. Parties to the conflict obstructed humanitarian access, increasing numbers of children were recruited as child soldiers, and conflict-related sexual violence was pervasive – including rape, gang rape and sexual mutilation.

In Somalia, escalating and indiscriminate use of drones and manned aircraft by the US military’s Africa Command (US AFRICOM) to carry out attacks continued to cause civilian deaths and causalities. A record of over 50 airstrikes resulted in at least three civilian deaths, bringing the number of civilians killed by such attacks to at least 17 in the last two years.

Abuses by armed groups, communal violence and unlawful state responses

Armed groups continued their brutal attacks, perpetuating a catalogue of abuses and crimes in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, CAR, DRC, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia and elsewhere. Some attacks constituted serious abuses of international humanitarian laws. Often, the response of security forces and their allies also involved serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights laws.

In Somalia, the UN recorded over 1,150 civilian casualties by mid-November. Al-Shabaab was responsible for most of these targeted attacks – including a truck bombing in December, which killed nearly 100 people in Mogadishu. Military operations against Al-Shabaab by Somali and allied forces also resulted in dozens of civilian deaths and injuries, often due to indiscriminate attacks.

In Cameroon’s north-west and south-west regions, Anglophone armed separatist groups continued to commit abuses including killings, mutilations and abductions. The military responded disproportionately, committing extrajudicial executions and burning homes.

Security deteriorated significantly in the centre of Mali, with widespread killings of civilians by armed groups and self-proclaimed ‘self-defence groups’. In response, Malian security forces committed multiple violations including extrajudicial executions and torture.

In Ethiopia, the response of security forces to a surge in communal violence that killed hundreds often involved excessive use of force. For example, in January the Ethiopian Defence Forces killed at least nine people, including three children, during operations to contain ethnic violence in the Amhara Region. The army promised an investigation, but its findings had not been made public by the year’s end.

Failure to protect civilians from abuses by armed groups

Many states as well as international peacekeepers also failed in their obligation to protect civilians from war crimes and other serious human rights violations committed by armed groups – including killings, torture, abductions and mass displacements.

In eastern DRC, local police and nearby UN peacekeepers stayed in their camps while armed groups killed at least 70 civilians in Beni during November.

In Nigeria, security forces failed to protect civilians in the northeast as Boko Haram carried out over 30 attacks resulting in at least 378 civilian deaths and the displacement of thousands of people. Residents of some attacked towns and villages reported that Nigerian security forces had withdrawn their protection shortly before the attacks.

In Cameroon’s Far north region, civilians protested against the lack of state protection and their feeling of abandonment amidst Boko Haram’s surge in attacks during which at least 275 people were killed and others mutilated or kidnapped.

Impunity

A major reason for the persistent cycle of armed conflicts and violence in so many countries was the continuing failure to properly investigate and hold perpetrators to account for gross violations and abuses, including crimes under international law. Despite limited progress in some countries, concrete steps to provide justice to victims were generally lacking.

In South Sudan, perpetrators of serious violations committed during the armed conflict continued to enjoy impunity, and the government continued to block the establishment of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan – an African Union-led judicial mechanism intended to address the legacy of violence and provide justice to the conflict’s victims.

In Sudan, the perpetrators of over 16 years of serious violations in Darfur – including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide – were still not brought to justice.

As in previous years, there were no genuine steps taken by Nigeria’s government to deliver justice to countless victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the northeast by Boko Haram and its own security forces.

Mali’s president promulgated a ‘national reconciliation’ law that the UN Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Mali said could “prevent many victims of serious violations from exercising their rights to fair and equitable justice, to obtain reparation and to know the truth about the violations committed in the past”. Despite numerous violations and abuses committed since 2012, there have been few trials and fewer convictions.

There was also widespread impunity surrounding abuses committed by non-state actors, as well as violations by state actors – including crackdowns on protesters, torture and other attacks on human rights defenders, civil society activists, minorities, refugees and migrants.

In Sudan, despite sustained and brutal attacks by the security forces against peaceful protesters – in which 177 people were killed, and hundreds more injured – only one case was brought for trial. In October, Sudan’s new transitional government set up an independent committee to investigate the most serious violations carried out in Khartoum on 3 June. However, although the committee was expected to publish its report and findings within three months, the deadline was extended.

In Ethiopia, the government has yet to conduct thorough and impartial investigations into abuses by non-state actors and security forces – including the killing of protesters and numerous allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in prisons.

Limited signs of progress included CAR’s ordinary courts examining some cases of abuses by armed groups, while the Special Criminal Court (SCC) received 27 complaints and started investigations. However, the SCC has yet to issue any arrest warrant or start trials. Additionally, the February peace agreement between the government and 14 armed groups led to the appointment of alleged perpetrators within the new government, and impunity persisted.

There was a similarly mixed picture in DRC. Military courts heard some rape cases committed in the context of conflict but failed to bring to account most high-ranking civilian officials and military officers suspected of committing or sponsoring crimes under international law. Several politicians and senior officers suspected of violations were retained in or were appointed to senior positions in state institutions.

International Criminal Court

There were developments at the International Criminal Court (ICC) regarding CAR, Côte d’Ivoire, DRC and Mali, but little progress on situations in Guinea, Nigeria and Sudan.

The year started with the Trial Chamber’s acquittal of former Côte d’Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo and his former aide Charles Blé Goudé from all charges of crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Côte d’Ivoire in 2010 and 2011. The Prosecutor appealed that decision.

In December, a report from the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor confirmed again that the Nigerian government was failing to take meaningful steps to deliver justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Boko Haram and its own security forces during the conflict in northeast Nigeria. However, the Office of the Prosecutor did not determine whether to open an investigation, close to 10 years after opening a preliminary examination. It nonetheless gave indication that this determination will be made in 2020.

In Sudan, former head of state Omar al-Bashir was removed from power in April, but the authorities failed to surrender him and three other suspects to the ICC under arrest warrants for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur.

There was progress in proceedings regarding CAR. In January, Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona, leader of an anti-balaka militia group, was transferred to the ICC for alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in 2013 and 2014. In February, the case was joined to another against Alfred Yekatom, also head of an anti-balaka armed group. In December, charges against them were partly confirmed and the case was sent to trial.

In September, the ICC confirmed the charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity against Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud, former chief of Islamic police in the Malian city of Timbuktu.

In November, the ICC sentenced Bosco Ntaganda, former military chief of staff of a militia group operating in eastern DRC, to 30 years’ imprisonment. In July, he had been found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Repression of dissent

Crackdown on protest

In over 20 countries, people were denied their right to peaceful protest – including through unlawful bans, use of excessive force, harassment and arbitrary arrests.

Use of excessive force and other abuses to disperse peaceful protests resulted in deaths, injuries and unlawful arrests in several countries.

In Sudan, thousands of peaceful protesters brought an end to decades of repression under President Omar al-Bashir in April and revived hopes for respect for human rights. But this came at a terrible price. At least 177 people were killed and hundreds more injured when security forces used live ammunition, tear gas, beatings and arbitrary arrests to break up mass peaceful protests in Khartoum and elsewhere.

Zimbabwean security forces unleashed a violent crackdown against people protesting fuel price hikes in January – shooting dead at least 15, wounding 78 more and arbitrarily arresting over 1,000.

Guinea’s security forces continued to fuel violence during demonstrations by resorting to excessive use for force. At least 17 people died (including at least 11 people in October and three in November) during demonstrations against a constitutional revision that could allow President Alpha Condé to run for a third term.

Between April and June in Benin, security forces killed at least four protesters and bystanders.

In Angola, police and security forces violently broke up protests calling for the independence of the Cabinda province in January and December and made scores of arbitrary arrests. In Chad, 13 protesters were beaten and arrested in April during a peaceful protest against shortages of butane gas. DRC’s police used excessive force to disperse at least 35 peaceful demonstrations – injuring at least 90 people and arbitrarily arresting scores. In South Sudan, protesters in Juba were prevented from participating in a peaceful demonstration in May after the government deployed the military, conducted house-to-house searches, and threatened protesters.

Elsewhere, governments used administrative and other measures to impose unlawful restrictions and bans on peaceful protests. For much of the year, Nigerian police authorities banned peaceful assembly in several states and restricted access to a popular rallying point for most protests in the capital city of Abuja.

In Senegal, restrictive legislation on the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly was used, including a 2011 decree banning assemblies in the centre of Dakar. In Tanzania and Togo, amendments to existing laws ushered in more wide-ranging restrictions on freedom of association and peaceful assembly. In Guinea, the authorities banned over 20 protests on vague, overly broad grounds.

Crackdowns on protests were particularly common before, during and after elections. In January, Cameroonian authorities violently disrupted peaceful protests against the 2018 re-election of President Paul Biya and arbitrarily arrested nearly 300 protesters, including the leader of the opposition Movement for the Renaissance of Cameroon. In the run-up to April parliamentary elections in Benin, authorities introduced a blanket ban on demonstrations and arrested scores of opposition activists.

In the days following Mauritania’s June presidential elections, political activists were arbitrarily arrested, and demonstrations by opposition groups contesting the election results were banned. In Guinea, over 60 members of pro-democracy movement National Front for the Defence of the Constitution suffered arbitrary arrests. In Mozambique’s October elections, 18 election monitors were arrested and placed in extended incommunicado detention.

Attacks on human rights defenders and opposition activists

Widespread repression of dissent also manifested itself through attacks on human rights defenders, activists and civil society organizations.

In Equatorial Guinea, harassment, intimidation and arbitrary detention of human rights defenders and activists continued. Alfredo Okenve, vice-president of the Centre for Development Studies and Initiatives (CEID) – one of the country’s few independent human rights NGOs – was arrested, and the CEID’s authorization was revoked by decree.

In Zimbabwe, at least 22 human rights defenders, activists, civil society and opposition leaders were charged by police for their suspected roles in organizing peaceful fuel price protests in January, while others fled the country. Those arrested included local pastor and activist Evan Mawarire, as well as Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Secretary General Japhet Moyo and ZCTU President Peter Mutasa.

Burundi’s authorities continued to crack down on human rights defenders, activists and civil society organizations. The government suspended civil society organization PARCEM, and a court upheld the conviction and 32-year prison sentence against human rights defender Germain Rukuki.

After a sham trial in June, a South Sudanese court handed prison sentences to six men, including academic and activist Peter Biar Ajak.

In Mauritania, anti-slavery activist Ahmedou Ould Wediaa was arbitrarily arrested during a police raid at his home following his criticism of the authorities’ response to election-related protests. In Nigeria, journalists and/or human rights defenders Omoyele Sowore, Olawale Bakare and Agba Jalingo were arbitrary arrested and detained on politically motivated charges.

In a positive development, authorities in DRC announced in March that over 700 hundred people had been released from prison, and all unofficial detention centres operated by the National Intelligence Agency had been closed, on the president’s orders. Those freed included several prisoners of conscience and others held in prolonged arbitrary detention.

Freedom of expression and shrinking political space

Emerging regressive laws

Some governments moved to introduce new laws to restrict the activities of human rights defenders, journalists and opponents.

Côte d’Ivoire in June adopted a new Criminal Code that threatened to further undermine the right to freedom of expression. It included crimes of offending the head of state and “publishing data which may undermine public order”.

In the same month, Burkina Faso amended its Criminal Code by introducing overly broad offences that could be used to restrict access to information and clamp down on human rights defenders, activists, journalists and bloggers.

Guinea in July adopted the Prevention and Repression of Terrorism law that contains overly broad provisions that could be used to criminalize the legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression.

In December, the Nigerian National Assembly began considering two bills that would severely restrict the right to freedom of expression online, including one proposing the death penalty for ‘hate speech’. These bills would give the authorities arbitrary powers to shut down internet access, limit social media access and make criticizing the government punishable by up to three years in prison.

Media freedom

In at least 25 countries – more than two thirds of those monitored – media freedom was curtailed and journalists faced criminalization.

The situation in Somalia was particularly severe. Journalists were routinely beaten, threatened and subjected to arbitrary arrests by security forces in south central Somalia and in Puntland. Armed group Al-Shabaab killed two journalists and targeted others with violence, intimidation and threats. Journalists also had their Facebook accounts closed, media outlets were bribed to self-censor, and at least eight journalists fled into exile due to threats against their lives.

In 17 other countries, journalists were arbitrarily arrested and detained. In Nigeria, Amnesty International documented 19 cases of assault, arbitrary arrests, and detention of journalists, with many facing trumped-up charges. In South Sudan, at least 16 media workers were detained, and journalists harassed, including two female journalists who were assaulted during a meeting addressed by President Salva Kiir.

Mozambican journalist Amade Abubacar was arrested and held for months in pre-trial detention. In Tanzania, investigative journalist Erick Kabendera and two other journalists were arbitrarily arrested on fabricated charges. Four journalists and their driver were arrested in Burundi as they travelled to investigate reports of clashes between an armed group and state security forces.

In Sierra Leone, public officials continued to use the Public Order Act to silence journalists, activists and others. 

Government media closures and suspensions were also common. In January, the DRC government shut down several media outlets in an attempt to stop the publication of unofficial election results and to stem widespread protests over allegations of massive election fraud. In May, the Uganda Communications Commission ordered the suspension of staff at 13 independent radio and TV stations following their coverage of the arbitrary arrest of musician and opposition politician Bobi Wine. Media outlets were also closed down in Ghana, Togo, Tanzania and Zambia.

With independent news and opposition opinion increasingly forced to migrate online, so too did government restrictions. Internet shutdowns were ordered in Zimbabwe during the January fuel protests, and in Benin, DRC and Mauritania during and after elections. In July, Chad’s president announced he had asked the relevant internet service providers to lift restrictions on social media networks. The authorities had previously denied being the cause of the blockages implemented since 2018.

Refugees, migrants and displaced people

Protracted conflicts – along with recurring humanitarian crises and persistent human rights violations – forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes in search of protection.

In Somalia, over 300,000 people were internally displaced because of conflict, droughts and floods, and barriers to accessing humanitarian aid. Other internal displacements included 700,000 people in Cameroon’s north-west and south-west regions due to insecurity and more than 270,000 in the Far north due to Boko Haram attacks. There were similar patterns of internal displacements elsewhere: 600,000 in CAR; over half a million in Burkina Faso; more than 222,000 in Chad; and more than 200,000 in Mali.

Refugees and migrants fleeing to neighbouring countries sometimes faced abuses, violations and forced repatriation.

Rwanda hosted around 150,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, primarily from Burundi and DRC. By the year’s end, no one had been brought to justice for three incidents in 2018 in which Rwandan security forces opened fire on protesting refugees – causing the deaths of at least 11 Congolese refugees and scores of injuries.

Tanzania’s government continued to pressure over 160,000 Burundian refugees and asylum-seekers into returning to Burundi, despite that country’s ongoing serious violations against real or perceived opposition supporters, including returning refugees. Pressure increased in August when the government signed a bilateral agreement with Burundi to return refugees “whether voluntarily or not”.South Africa’s failing asylum management system left hundreds of thousands of applicants without proper documentation. There was a 96% rejection rate of asylum applications and a backlog of an estimated 190,000 appeals and reviews. Xenophobic violence in August and September resulted in the killing of at least 12 people, comprised of locals and foreigners, partly driven by years of impunity for past attacks.

Discrimination and marginalization

Discrimination, marginalization and violence against women and girls – often arising from cultural traditions and institutionalized by unjust laws – continued in several countries.

Women and girls were subjected to rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence in many countries, including Burundi, Cameroon, CAR, DRC, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan and Sudan. Some limited progress was made in Sierra Leone with passage of a new law providing that all sexual-offence cases would now proceed directly to the High Court.

Pregnant girls continued to be excluded from schools, including in Equatorial Guinea, Sierra Leone and Tanzania. There was a glimmer of hope when a December ruling by the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) Court of Justice rejected Sierra Leone’s 2015 ban on pregnant girls from sitting exams and attending mainstream school as amounting to discrimination.

There were some advances to protect women and girls from discrimination. In November, Sudan’s transitional government repealed restrictive public order laws governing women’s presence in public spaces. Ghana introduced an Affirmative Action Bill seeking a 50% representation of women in public positions of power; however, despite strong advocacy from local women’s rights groups, this had not passed into law by the year’s end.

People with albinism

Superstitions about the magical powers of people with albinism continued to fuel attacks on them. In Malawi, a 60-year-old man was mutilated and murdered in front of his 9-year-old son in January. A 14-year-old boy was abducted in February and remained missing.In July, the Parliamentary Forum of the Southern African Development Community adopted a motion condemning attacks, abductions, killings and discrimination against people with albinism across the region.

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people faced discrimination, prosecution, harassment and violence including in Angola, Eswatini, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda.

In Nigeria, there were widespread arrests of gay, lesbian and bisexual people, and in December, 47 men went on trial in Lagos charged with public displays of affection with members of the same sex.

In Senegal, at least 11 people were arrested on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. Nine of them were sentenced to between six months and five years’ imprisonment. In Uganda, police arrested 16 LGBTI activists in October and subjected them to forced anal examinations. In Tanzania, six health centres working to support the rights of LGBTI people were closed down after some were accused of “promoting unethical acts”.

Positively, the Angolan parliament adopted a new penal code decriminalizing same-sex relationships, and Botswana’s High Court handed down a groundbreaking judgement decriminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults.

Livelihood, education and healthcare

Many governments failed to protect and fulfil the rights to health care, education and an adequate standard of living, including housing.

Livelihoods under threat

In Angola, large-scale diversion of land for commercial cattle ranching ¬took place without consultation or compensation for traditional pastoralists. This meant their cattle went hungry and pastoralist communities were faced with food insecurity and hunger.

In southern DRC, an accident that killed 43 artisanal miners and the deployment of the army to two massive copper and cobalt mines exposed DRC’s weak mining regulations and poor human rights protections. In CAR, a parliamentary report revealed a mining company’s responsibility involving pollution of a local river.

Forced evictions

In countries including Eswatini, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe, the right to adequate housing was violated by forced evictions. Thousands of people were evicted without due process, compensation or other remedy. For example, over the year the Nigerian government evicted more than 20 communities in Lagos state.

In Eswatini, hundreds of people remained at risk of forced evictions. In a meeting with Amnesty International in May, the government pledged to introduce a moratorium on all evictions but had not announced it by the year’s end.

Access to health care

The right to health care was under extreme threat in countries including Burundi, DRC, Madagascar and Zimbabwe. In DRC, at least 1,680 people died of Ebola, 5,000 of measles and 260 of cholera. In Burundi, over 3,100 people died of malaria. Cameroon’s armed conflict led to the destruction of several health care facilities.

In South Africa, there were widespread reports of shortages in contraceptives and antiretroviral medicines as well as understaffing in support centres for rape survivors.

Access to education

Access to education in countries affected by armed conflicts was particularly problematic. In Mali, 920 schools were closed by June after attacks on teachers and facilities. In Cameroon’s conflict-ridden north-west and south-west, by December just 17% of schools were functional and just 29% of teachers were able to work, according to the UN. In Burkina Faso, attacks by armed groups caused the closure of 2,087 schools affecting more than 300,000 students and 9,000 teachers.

On the positive side, the DRC government introduced free primary education – a right enshrined in the Constitution – benefitting millions of children. However, progress was hindered by poor planning and infrastructure, and insufficient funding.

Regional human rights bodies

Compliance with decisions of regional bodies remained low, and these bodies were repeatedly frustrated by member states’ lack of co-operation or attempts to undermine the regional bodies’ independence and autonomy.

A handful of countries submitted state party reports to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) – but only after years of delay. Most member states receiving requests for urgent appeals and provisional measures did not respond even though these requests concerned cases presenting a danger of irreparable harm.

Only a few member states accepted requests from the regional bodies to conduct country visits, but none facilitated an actual undertaking of these visits in 2019, and not a single country issued a standing invitation to the ACHPR or ACERWC.

In August, Zimbabwe’s president promised the country would ratify the African Court Protocol, but this had not been done by the year’s end. Tanzania withdrew the right of individuals and NGOs to directly file cases against it at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in a cynical attempt to evade accountability.

Despite facing many challenges, the ACHPR and ACERWC registered relatively impressive records in developing new human rights standards and norms, including the ACHPR General Comment No. 5 on the Right to Movement.

Looking ahead

Africa faces numerous human rights challenges. Protecting civilians in armed conflict, freeing human rights defenders and activists from repression, opening up political space for dialogue, tackling discrimination and violence against women and minorities, and safeguarding vulnerable people’s economic, social and cultural rights are just some of them.

But if 2019 taught us anything, it is that accountability and justice are at the heart of any meaningful solutions as is the power and resilience of people to bring about positive and meaningful human rights changes.

The African Union has declared 2020 the year of “Silencing the Guns” but the goal of ridding Africa of conflict is still a long way off. This can only be reached by ending the widespread culture of impunity and ensuring justice and reparations for the victims of gross human rights violations and abuses.