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Rights abuses are rife in Africa’s lusophone countries, the US says

Of the six lusophone countries on the continent, only Cabo Verde escapes criticism in Washington’s annual survey of human rights around the world.

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Of the six lusophone countries on the continent, only Cabo Verde escapes criticism in Washington’s annual survey of human rights around the world.

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PUBLISHED

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Less than 1 minute Minutes

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 12:28 am

Serious human rights violations took place in almost all of Africa’s lusophone countries in 2022, according to the US State Department’s 2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

In Angola, the report found evidence of arbitrary killings, torture, arbitrary detention, restrictions on free expression and the press, censorship, interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly, government corruption, a lack of accountability for gender-based violence, and violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex people.

It said that “accountability for human rights abuses was limited due to a lack of checks and balances, lack of institutional capacity, a culture of impunity, and government corruption”.

A similar litany of abuses was found in Mozambique and Equatorial Guinea.

In Mozambique, the report also noted “serious abuses in a conflict, including unlawful and widespread civilian deaths or harm, abductions, physical abuses, rape, sexual slavery, and unlawful use of child soldiers by nonstate actors”.

[See more: Macao hits back at US accusations of rights violations]

In Equatorial Guinea, researchers additionally found “credible reports” of punishment of family members for alleged offences by a relative, restrictive law on the operation and funding of NGOs, and restrictions on movement and political participation.

In Guinea-Bissau, researchers found reports of torture, arbitrary arrest, “serious problems with the independence of the judiciary”, restrictions on free expression and media, including violence against journalists, and “serious government corruption”. It said that a culture of impunity continued to be a problem.

While there was evidence of human rights abuses in  São Tomé and Príncipe, including extrajudicial killings, torture, corruption and violence toward women and children, the report noted that “the government took some steps to identify, investigate, prosecute, and punish officials who committed abuses”.

Of Africa’s lusophone countries, only Cabo Verde came in for a good report. “There were no reports of significant human rights abuses” researchers said, noting that “the government had mechanisms in place to identify and punish officials who may commit human rights abuses or engage in corruption”.

Critics say that Washington ignores its own human rights issues in drawing up the annual report, which covers 198 countries. China hits back each year with its own assessment, The State of Democracy in the United States.

This year, Beijing took issue with “money politics, identity politics, social rifts, and the gulf between the rich and poor” in the US and accused Washington of using “the pretext of democracy to oppress other countries and serve its own agenda” while “exacerbating division in the international community”.

 

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 12:28 am

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