Five African countries were mentioned in a recent address by the United Nations human rights chief. Three of them – Ethiopia, Gambia and Mozambique – for shying away from UN officers requesting to carry out human rights investigations.
According to Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Congo Republic and Burundi were cooperative with the UN officers. In the case of Burundi however the UN expressed concern over witch-hunt of witnesses who volunteered information to their team.
Given the potentially serious repercussions of any further decline in the situation, I believe it is urgent to assist the authorities to maintain respect for all human rights.
The UN whiles lauding Ethiopia for its economic development efforts noted that news about deadly clampdown on protesters in the Amhara and Oromia regions were cause for deep concern.
They also welcomed the efforts of the government with respect to conducting their own probe into the protests but added that the UN will only be an independent international investigator into the situation.
‘‘I welcome a national effort, but believe the Government should also consider the need for an independent, impartial and international effort to affirm or revise the allegations,’‘ he said.
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The UN human rights team he also disclosed has requested clearance to field a joint mission to the Gambia and were still awaiting a response.
The UN’s main concern in Gambia was with respect to instances of inflammatory speech, as well as alleged violence against protesters in the context of the electoral campaign, and more recently, death in detention, and reported torture and ill-treatment of detainees.
‘‘Given the potentially serious repercussions of any further decline in the situation, I believe it is urgent to assist the authorities to maintain respect for all human rights,’‘ the rights chief stated.
The Mozambican government like the Ethiopia and the Gambia governments had yet to respond to the UN human rights group’s request for an assessment mission to visit the southern African country.
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‘‘Continued armed confrontation between RENAMO and the national army, beginning almost a year ago, has heightened the levels of violence, and we have received reports of mass graves, summary executions, destruction of property, displacement and attacks against civilians.
Tensions are exacerbated by economic deterioration across the country, and an increasingly severe humanitarian situation resulting from drought. I trust the Government’s response will be received soon,’‘ his statement read.
Zeid Ra’ad was speaking during his opening statement at the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council.
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