Ongoing armed conflicts and economic instability across parts of Africa have created the perfect climate for human rights abuses, including sexual and gender-based violence, and denial of the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. Complex humanitarian emergencies hide the basic needs of the migrant workforce and usher in a wide range of abuses, with workers in conflict zones being used as human shields and captured by armed groups. This further heightens the need for governments in the region to act.

Specific industries have also been able to take advantage of these crises to turn a profit by exploiting their vulnerable workers. According to National Geographic News, conflicts involving the lucrative African diamond industry, which supplies 60% of the world’s diamonds, have resulted in the deaths of more than 4 million people, and displaced millions more.

Human rights defenders in Africa need the support of AWARE and other diverse organizations and individuals as we pursue a single goal of effective human rights advocacy and the implementation of reforms across Africa.

Key Abuses: Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Amnesty International reports that “the security situation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) remains dire and an upsurge in violence by armed groups has claimed the lives of thousands of civilians and forced more than a million people to leave their homes.”
  • Human rights concerns in the Republic of Congo include restrictions on assembly, the press, and expression, as well as ethnic discrimination.
  • Incidents of rape in the Congo are rampant, with reports from new agencies that four women are raped every five minutes in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • LGBT people are routinely arrested on charges related to “public decency” and gays are forced to remain hidden to protect themselves.
  • According to the United States Department of Labor, children in the Republic of the Congo are engaged in child labor, including in domestic work and the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation.

Specific Examples of Abuse:

Key Abuses: Eritrea

  • Eritrea has had no functioning legislature, independent press, or any semblance of civil society organizations since 2001.
  • Major human rights abuses in Eritrea include torture, restrictions on freedoms of expression, degrading treatment in detention, and repression of religious freedom.
  • Eritrea has been compared to North Korea for its widespread forced labor practices.
  • According to a U.N. report, Eritreans live in constant fear they’re being monitored by security agents and that any information gathered may be used against them for “arrest, detention, torture, disappearance or death.”

Specific Examples of Abuse:

Key Abuses: Sudan

  • Human Rights Watch reports that government authorities in Sudan continue “to apply Shari’a law sanctions that violate international prohibitions on cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. The penalties are applied disproportionately to women and girls, typically for “crimes” that include private beliefs and decisions about marriage, sexuality, or dress code.”
  • Journalists and human rights defenders report suffering harassment, arrest, and detention without charge, and other forms of intimidation, mainly from Sudanese security forces.
  • Reuters reports that strict interpretations of Islam curb Sudanese women’s freedoms and allows for domestic abuse, child marriage and marital rape. Sexual violence is common and often goes unpunished.

Specific Examples of Abuse:

Key Abuses: Nigeria

  • Human Rights Watch reports that government security forces are implicated in human rights abuses throughout the country, with little effort made to bring to hold those responsible to account.
  • Armed conflicts continue across Nigeria, with the armed group Boko Haram targeting violence attacks against government and civilian targets.
  • Boko Haram often abducts young women and girls and tortures people living under its control who violate its rules.
  • According to Amnesty International, “Nigerian law criminalizes marriage or civil union for same-sex couples; the solemnization of same-sex marriage in places of worship; public displays of affection between same-sex couples; and the registration and support of gay clubs and societies in Nigeria.”

Specific Examples of Abuse: