Sexual Abuse and Slavery Being Used as Weapons Says Human Rights Group

By: Adam King
Impunity Rights News Reporter, Africa

Women and children face fears of sexual violence. Photo courtesy of Human Rights Watch.

DAKAR, Senegal — A recent report by Human Rights watch released on October 5, 2017 details the horrific ordeals of the plight of women in the Central African Republic.  Women in the region have been subjected to repeated instances of rape and sexual slavery.  The repeated violence is the result of a coup that took place in the country in 2013;

“Thousands have died and a fifth of Central Africans have been uprooted in a conflict that broke out after the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in early 2013, provoking a backlash from Christian anti-balaka militias.”

It’s clear, according to Human Rights researcher Hillary Margalois, that the violence against women is calculated and intentional;

“Armed groups are using rape in a brutal, calculated way to punish and terrorize women and girls…Every day, survivors live with the devastating aftermath of rape, and the knowledg[e] that their attackers are walking free, perhaps holding positions of power, and to date facing no consequences whatsoever.”

This targeting has a directly negative effect on the women involved.  Women may not feel as if they have effective recourses against the treatment, which may lead to underreporting of the violations against them, “Due to stigma, under-reporting by survivors, and security-related restrictions on research, the full number of sexual violence incidents by armed groups during the conflict is undoubtedly higher.”

The stigma discussed is not just that of being the victim of rape or sexual exploitation.  There are also cultural factors at play that can affect women twice over, social and familial. A woman can be forced to bear shame from the violence against her and be ridiculed by family and community members;

“Stigma and rejection also present significant barriers to women and girls disclosing rape or seeking help. Survivors said their husbands or partners abandoned them, family members blamed them, and community members taunted them publicly after rape…Only 11 of the 296 survivors interviewed said they had tried to initiate a criminal investigation. Those who had informed authorities faced mistreatment including victim-blaming, failure to investigate, and even demands to present their attackers for arrest. Three survivors said that their relatives had been killed, beaten, or threatened with death when they confronted members of an armed group responsible for their rapes.”

The stigma attached to the violence, coupled with shame and ridicule, leave these women with little options to pursue justice.  The threat alone of repeated physical violence or even death is enough to deter women from seeking out help.  As a result, many of the aftereffects resulting from the violence and rape leave permanent afflictions;

“Women and girls often said they suffered incapacitating physical injury and illness, including HIV, because of rape, as well as suicidal thoughts and loss of livelihoods or access to education. Most had not received post-rape medical or mental health care – including medication to prevent HIV and unwanted pregnancy – due to a lack of medical facilities, the cost of services or transport to facilities, and misconceptions about available services.”

Violence against women in conflict zones is unfortunately a rather frequent occurrence in Africa.  Women and children tend to be the most vulnerable and do not have the means to seek effective redress. The United Nations has spent considerable time and resources in identifying and trying to address the problem head-on. There have been regional initiatives that attempt to empower tribunals to conduct investigations into allegations of sexual violence and bring those responsible to justice.  The Special Criminal Court (SCC) is backed by close to 20 non-governmental and international human rights organizations. The challenge, however, is to convince surviving victims that pursuing justice is a possibility and that it doesn’t result in further intimidation or violence from the perpetrators.

For more information, please see:

Reuters — ‘Rape, sexual slavery are weapons in Central African Republic war – report’ — 05 October 2017

Human Rights Watch — ‘Central African Republic: Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War’ — 05 October 2017

Human Rights Watch — ‘Central African Republic: Support the Special Criminal Court’ — 16 November 2016

Amnesty International — ‘Global campaign targets rape in conflict zones’ — 23 November 2012

United Nations — ‘Rape: Weapon of War’ — June 2008

Campaigns Shut Down After Violence in Zambia

By: Samantha Netzband

Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

LUSAKA, Zambia—A campaign ban has been put into effect in the Zambian cities of Lusaka and Nawala by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).  The ban comes after a political rally for the United Party for National Development (UPND) turned violent on July 8th.  A police order was issued against the rally being held, but it proceeded as planned anyways.  Police opened fire on UPND protesters when the situation became violent. One person has died as a result of the protest and a number of others are injured.  The suspension of campaigning includes “public rallies, meetings, procession, or door to door campaigns.”


Zambia electoral body suspends campaigns

Campaign rally in Zambia. (Photo Courtesy of Today)


The United Party for National Development along with the Patriotic Front are cited as being the center of the violence by creating tension as the August elections draw nearer.  Hakainde Hichilema, the leader of the UPND, says that the cancellation of campaign events is meant to save face for the current President of Zambia Edgar Lungu, a member of the Patriotic Front.  Hichilema believes that Lungu was experiencing low turnout at his campaign events.

Human rights activists are calling on members of law enforcement to take the campaign break as a time to reflect on the alleged poor treatment of the United Party for National Development.  Activists claim that the UPND has had trouble getting permits for rallies.  Police have already promised to make an inquiry into the death of the one protester.

Forum for Democracy & Development (FDD) party member Antonio Mwanza, who is running for MP, says that the parties inciting the violence should be punished: “What ECZ should do is punish the violent candidates and parties as opposed to inconveniencing some of us who have been peaceful; us who have nothing to do with the madness of violence.”

Despite the ban on in-person campaigning, campaign activities via electronic and print media will still be allowed.  However, these communications will be monitored for hate speech.  Normal campaign activities will start back up on July 18th after a review of the the political situation. In the interim, all campaign vehicles will remain parked.parked and campaign activities will not happen in hopes of stopping the political violence.

For more information, please see: 

All Africa – ECZ Impose 10 Day Ban On Campaigns in Lusaka and Namwala – 10 July 2016

Daily Mail – Zambia Elections Body Halts Campaigning in Capital Over Violence – 10 July 2016

Sun Daily – Zambia Suspends Election Campaigning Over Violence – 10 July 2016

Today – Zambia Electoral Body Suspends Campaigns – 10 July 2016

Zambia Daily – FDD Decries Campaign Ban – 10 July 2016

Kenyan Policemen Suspended after Highway Shooting

By Daniel M. Austin
Impunity watch Reporter, Africa

Kenyan Police Officer ordering suspects to the ground. (Photo Courtesy of Kansas City Star).
Kenyan police officers ordering suspects to the ground. (Photo Courtesy of Kansas City Star).

NAIROBI, Kenya – Three Kenyan police officers have been suspended after the Daily Nation newspaper published photos of the officers shooting and killing three unarmed suspects at point blank range. Kenya’s interior minister ordered the chief of police to suspend the three individuals and called for a complete investigation. Critics of the Kenyan government claim this incident is just another example of the security forces committing brazen acts of violence without any repercussions.

This particular incident occurred Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. on Lang’ata Road, a busy highway that runs through central Nairobi. The shooting was witnessed by several people who were walking alongside the highway as well as motorists who were driving along the highway. One witness used a camera to capture the incident in a series of photographs.

According to witnesses, the officers, who were dressed in plain clothes, pulled over the suspects’ vehicle, ordered them out of the vehicle and onto the pavement.  The suspects were subsequently searched where it was discovered that one had a pistol tucked into his waist band.  The three police officers then shot and killed the three suspects at close range.

Initially the Kenyan police claimed that the suspects were armed and had fired upon the officers. However, several witnesses claimed the suspects had surrendered and exited their vehicle with their hands in the air. Furthermore this explanation of a shootout given by the police department was retracted after the Daily Nation published the photographs taken by a witness. According to these photos, it appears security forces had control of the situation, and the suspects were not resisting arrest.

This incident has gained international attention and sparked fears the Kenyan government is continuing to use security forces to carry out extrajudicial killings. Kenyans are especially sensitive to this issue given their tenuous relationship with the police in recent years. During presidential elections three years ago, an estimated 1,200 people were killed, including several hundred who allegedly were killed by the police.

Amnesty International has condemned the killings, claiming these types of crimes have occurred with great frequency in Kenya. Supporting this assertion, in 2009, the United Nations released a report which found police executions in Kenya were organized and widespread.

For more information:

BBC – Kenyan police suspended after Nairobi shooting —  20 January 2011

Daily Nation — Three officers interdicted over Nairobi killings – 19 January 2011

New York Times — Photos of Shot Kenyans Spur Calls for Police Reform – 20 January 2011

The Guardian — Three Kenyan policemen suspended over shooting of three suspects – 20 January 2011


By Erica Laster                                                                                                                          Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – While abortion continues to be illegal in Nicaragua, the use of 9 year olds to advocate for its use in the country is not. According to reports by Nicaraguan police, more than two thirds of the countries rape victims from 1998-2008 had not reached the age of 17.  Various tactics and measures used as solutions to resulting sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancies result in stigmatization and further trauma.

Current Nicaraguan President Ortegas stepdaughter accused him of rape in 1998.  Authorities never prosecuted him.  Photo courtesy of BBC News.
Current Nicaraguan President Ortega's stepdaughter accused him of rape in 1998. Authorities never prosecuted him. Photo courtesy of BBC News.

Amnesty reported that one mother attempted to file a complaint regarding her daughter’s rape by her step father.  Despite her report, authorities charged her with complicity and placed her in jail for 12 years for her failure to report the crime earlier.

Authorities never took action to arrest the step father.

Esther Major, a Nicaraguan research for Amnesty recognizes that “Young vitimcs of rape and sexual abuse demand that their right to be free from sexual violence is protected by the Nicaraguan government, and that they are supported so they can overcome the physical and psychological trauma caused by such acts of violence.”

Nicaragua’s abortion law demands that rape victims who become pregnant face imprisonment if they refuse to have the baby.    Many other victims are pressured into delivering the baby or giving the baby up for adoption.  Of the  14,000 cases reported in ten of the last 12 years, the main perpetrators were those in positions of power or relatives of the victims.

The result of inaction taken by authorities is silence from the victims.

Daniel Ortega, the current President of Nicaragua,  was accused of rape by his step-daughter in 1998.  Zoilamerica Narvaez reported the abuse to the authorities, indicating that Ortega molested her from the age of 11 to the age of 22.

As a member of parliament, Ortega maintained immunity from prosecution and the case was never brought to trial.

For More Information Please Visit:

Free Republic – Pregnant 9 year Old Victim Being Used To Push Abortion Legalization – 20 April 2010

Amnesty International – Nicaragua Must Put An End To Rape And Sexual Abuse Of Girls – 25 November 2010

BBC News – Nicaragua Accused Of Failing Rape Victims – 24 November 2010

Iraq Struck By Multiple Bombings

By Bobby Rajabi
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

BAGHDAD, Iraq – On September 28, a number of Iraqis died as a result of a number of bombings that took place throughout the country. While the exact number of dead has not been confirmed, estimates range between thirteen and eighteen dead as a result of the first major acts of violence in the country that followed the end of Ramadan. There had been somewhat of a pause in violence in the country since the Muslim holy month ended. Additionally, at least fifty five people were injured as a result of the bombings.

The deadliest bomb went off twenty miles west of the city of Ramadi, capital of the Anbar province.  It killed a number of Iraqi security forces members. The Anbar province and its capital were bases for insurgents after the United States invasion in 2003. A suicide attacker was able to blow up a water tanker that was packed with explosives at the headquarters of a quick response unit located on the highway. The explosion killed seven police officers and wounded ten others. The explosion also damaged a number of nearby buildings.

Another bomb went off in Diwaniyah, a city located one hundred miles south of Baghdad. The bomb went off in a minibus. Three passengers were killed while two others wounded.

Two bombs exploded in western Baghdad. The bombs went off in the Ghazaliyah neighborhood and killed three people. Among those killed was the commander of the army battalion. The first blast was a roadside bomb that did not kill anyone but injured one individual. The second bomb was attached to a parked motorcycle vehicle and accounted for the three deaths. Overall the Baghdad bombings wounded twenty-eight individuals.

A bomb also went off in the city of Mosul. This northern city is an area where it is believed that insurgents have regrouped after being forced out of Baghdad. A roadside bomb targeting a police vehicle exploded and killed two officers.

Despite the drop in violence from 2006 and 2007, roadside bombs and attempted assassinations are frequent occurrences. The primary targets for insurgents are Iraqi security forces, who are expected to take complete control of the country after all United States combat forces leave in August 2010.

For more information, please see:

Washington Post – Bombings Across Iraq Kill 15, Wound Dozens – 29 September 2009

AFP – Eighteen Killed, Dozens Wounded In Iraq Attacks – 28 September 2009

BBC – Iraq Hit By Deadly Bomb Attacks – 28 September 2009

New York Times – Holy Month Ends, And Violence Rises Again In Iraq – 28 September 2009

Reuters – Iraq Bomb Attacks End Ramadan Relative Lull – 28 September 2009

Yemen Arrests Alleged al Qaeda Financier

By Nykoel Dinardo
Senior Desk Officer, Middle East

SANA’A, Yemen – Yemeni officials announced on June 14 that they had arrested the leading financier of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  Yemeni Security forces arrested Saudi-national Hassan Hussein Bin Alwan in the Marib Province, which is located approximated 190 km north of the Yemeni capital Sana’a.  However, very few details about the arrest itself have been released.

According to a Yemeni Interior Ministry official, Bin Alwan is the biggest and most important financier of al Qaeda’s operations in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.  The Defense Ministry has described him as “one of the most dangerous al Qaeda terrorists.” 

Yemen has intensified its search efforts for al Qaeda members within its region since the terrorist organization announced in January 2009 that it would be merging al Qaeda groups in Saudi Arabia and Yemen to form ‘Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.’  However, political unrest in the region has made it easier for al Qaida to operate unnoticed within the country. 

Militant activity has increased in the past few months, and much of it has been the fault of groups other than al Qaeda.  For instance, on June 13, a group of nine travelling in Yemen was abducted by a Shi’ite militant group in Sadaa.  The group included seven Germans, a Briton, and a South Korean woman; all three of these countries have been communicating with Yemen in attempts to free these hostages and return them to their countries.  This kidnapping followed just one day after a gunman in Amran province abducted twenty-four medical workers.  The group was later released unharmed.  These acts of violence are signs of Yemen’s instability, a characteristic which attracts terrorists. 

Although Yemeni security officials state that their fight against terrorism in the region has had many recent successes, an article published in the New York Times on June 11 claims that al Qaeda members who have been hiding out in Pakistan are relocating to Yemen and Somalia where the social and political turmoil allows for easier operation.  Director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Leon Panetta explained in the article that the CIA is focusing on locations like Yemen because they may act like safe havens for terrorists.  Yemeni security officials deny these claims, arguing that Yemen is not suitable to act as a safe haven.

For more information, please see:

AFP – Al-Qaida Financier Arrested in Yemen: Official – 14 June 2009

Associated Press – Yemen Arrests Suspected Al-Qaida Financier – 14 June 2009

News Yemen – Yemeni Security Arrests Lead Financer of al Qaeda – 14 June 2009

Reuters – Yemen Says Arrests Saudi Financer of al Qaeda – 14 June 2009

Thaindian News – Al Qaeda Financier Held in Yemen – 14 June 2009

UPI – Nine Kidnapped in Yemen – 14 June 2009

News Yemen – Yemen Denies al-Qaeda Infiltration from Pakistan – 13 June 2009

New York Times – Some in Qaeda Leave Pakistan for Somalia and Yemen – 11 June 2009

BRIEF: Iraqi Official Gunned Down

The top aide to Iraq’s Finance Ministry, Qutaiba Badir al-Din Mohammed, was gunned down along with his driver in Baghdad.  The government has not commented on the death.

Also in the northeast province of Diyala,  10 people were killed.  The fighting arose through clashes between insurgents and policemen and the 1920’s Revolution Brigade.  The fighting claimed an eight year old child and women as collateral damage.  The victims were killed in seemingly random acts of violence.  For example, a policeman was killed in a drive by shooting.  Also, a bomb killed three people including a young child.

Associated Press- Iraqi Official Gunned Down in Baghdad- 4 November 2007