US faults EAC over human rights abuse

Saturday March 1 2014

By KEVIN J KELLEY Special Correspondent

Governments of East African countries violate the human rights of many of their citizens, the US State Department has said in a recent report.

In Kenya, security forces have carried out unlawful killings and forced disappearances and torture, with the government taking “only limited action” against suspected perpetrators, according to the State Department’s annual assessment of respect for human rights worldwide.

“Widespread impunity at all levels of government continued to be a serious problem, despite implementation of judicial reform and the vetting of all judges and magistrates,” says the report’s Kenya section.

In comments on the report on February 27, Secretary of State John Kerry again condemned Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act. He said it “not only makes criminals of people for who they are, but punishes those who defend the human rights that are our universal birthright.”

The State Department’s report on human rights conditions in 2013 flatly accuses Rwanda of supporting a marauding rebel group inside the DR Congo.

Support

“During the year, the government provided material, logistical and strategic support to the M23 armed group in the eastern DRC, which committed summary executions and forcibly recruited adults and minors,” says the report.

It also faults the Rwandan government for harassing, arresting and abusing political opponents and human-rights advocates. There was “disregard for the rule of law among security forces and the judiciary” in Rwanda, the report adds.

Tanzanians are said to suffer similar abuses at the hands of state authorities.

In addition to “excessive use of force by security forces resulting in deaths and injuries,” Tanzania’s human-rights record is marred by “lack of access to justice as well as a related continuation of mob violence. Gender-based violence, including female genital mutilation/cutting,” is also a serious problem in Tanzania, says the State Department.

Human rights are under siege last year in many parts of the world, the State Department says in an overview.

“More than six decades after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a widening gap persists between the rights conferred by law and the daily realities for many around the globe,” says the report.