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African Commission on
Human and Peoples' Rights

Press Statement on spike in violent conflicts in parts of the continent resulting in violations of rights

The African Commission expresses its grave concern that parts of the continent have witnessed rising incidents of violent conflicts in which civilians bear much of the brunt of the violence.

The African Commission deplores the worrisome rise in the frequency and geographic scope of violence and conflict in parts of the continent as recent incidents of violence in the Sahel, reported in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger that led to deaths, maiming, and displacement illustrate. The Commission considers both the proliferation of militant groups and the recurrent incidents of intercommunal violence claiming the lives of many and displacing more others very troublesome.

It is of a standing concern for the African Commission that Boko Haram continues to perpetrate attacks not only in Nigeria but also in Cameroon, Chad and Niger often targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure with devastating consequences for the life, liberty, security, property and livelihood of individuals and affected communities. 

The African Commission also reiterates its condemnation of acts of violence in Libya, particularly around Tripoli, the continuation of systematic acts of violations taking place in the conflict affected North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon leading to killings, displacement and closure of schools that left vast majority of children out of their education and the recurrent fighting and incidents of violence threatening the fragile peace agreement in the Central African Region.

The Commission also remains concerned that Somalia and Kenya have also experienced recurrent attacks by the terrorist group Al Shabaab and that there are rising threats of armed insurgency in Mozambique.

The African Commission is gravely alarmed that the upsurge in the frequency, fatality and geographic scope of these violent conflicts in parts of the continent has been accompanied by sharp increase in acts of violations of human and peoples’ rights and international humanitarian law including reports of extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, abductions, torture and other forms of ill treatment.

The African Commission rejects in no uncertain terms the direct targeting of civilians, the use of indiscriminate attacks, fighting in civilian areas which have resulted in huge civilian fatalities, with the violence in the Sahel reportedly leading to 5, 360 deaths.

It is with deep sadness that the African Commission also learns reports of rise in the number of people abducted, maimed and forced to flee their homes, including the ten-fold increase in the number of people displaced in Burkina Faso and the more than 670,000 children that have been displaced in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

The African Commission condemns all attacks of violence against civilians perpetrated in situations of conflict including mass killings, sexual violence, mutilations, abductions, destruction of sources of livelihood of people in the strongest terms possible.

The African Commission wishes to remind countries affected by violent conflict including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Libya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Somalia that they bear primary responsibility for ensuring protection of people under their jurisdiction from acts of violence including by enhancing protection measures, providing remedial measures to those affected by violence, instituting legitimate local government structures and facilitate support including humanitarian assistance and psychosocial support to Internally Displaced Persons, with particular attention to women and children. 

The African Commission also calls on the African Union, particularly its policy making bodies notably the AU Assembly and the Peace and Security Council to have a special session on the spike and spread of violence and conflicts in parts of the continent, and the attendant violations of human and peoples’ rights and international humanitarian law with a view to mobilize, as part of the agenda on silencing the guns in Africa, concrete and concerted collective continental action a) containing and resolving the violence and conflict affecting various countries with due regard to the human and peoples’ rights enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other African human rights instruments and b) for initiating remedial measures for redressing the harm that victims of violations suffered with particular attention to women and children.  

Honorable Commissioner Solomon Dersso, Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights