Friday, August 19, 2016

HRW tasks John Kerry on African rights, meaningful military reforms in Nigeria

The Washington-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has tasked the United States Secretary of State John Kerry to underscore his visit to the continent of Africa and the Saudi Arabi by prioritizing human rights and civilian protection, in addition to advocating military reform in Nigeria, reports ITRealms.

The visit, ITRealms gathered would see Mr. Kerry touch base in Nigeria and Kenya as well as Saudi Arabia between August 22 and 25, 2016.

HRW in a letter to the secretary of state, endorsed by its Washington director, Sarah Margon, noted that as Secretary Kerry meet with senior government officials in Kenya on August 22, 2016, and in Nigeria on August 23-24, he is expected to be in Saudi Arabia to discuss the armed conflict in Yemen on August 24-25.

“Secretary Kerry should press Kenya and Nigeria to ensure that security forces protect instead of prey on marginalized communities, including refugees,” she said, stressing that Kerry needs to tell the Saudis that unless unlawful coalition airstrikes in Yemen stop, US weapons sales will.

HRW pointed out that in Kenya, Kerry should urge investigations into security force abuses including enforced disappearances and torture, as well as urge Kenya not to close Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, or forcibly repatriate Somali refugees to their embattled country.

In Nigeria, HRW urge Kerry to press for meaningful reforms in the Nigerian military, just as the group solicited he uses his visit to address widespread atrocities in South Sudan and urge leaders of countries in the region to impose targeted financial sanctions on individuals responsible for grave human rights abuses and to build international support for an arms embargo.

On Somalia, HRW also called on Kerry to push for strengthening accountability mechanisms within AMISOM, the international peacekeeping mission, with all troop-contributing countries.

In Saudi Arabia, Kerry should raise concerns about serious and repeated violations of the laws of war by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen that have killed many civilians. He should make clear that the Saudi government needs to end unlawful airstrikes or risk losing US sales of munitions and arms. He should also press the government to allow independent investigations into alleged war crimes by all parties to the conflict.

“The Obama administration will have few remaining opportunities to express its human rights concerns directly to leaders in the region. It shouldn’t waste this one,” Margon said.

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