A Review of Human Rights Developments in Africa throughout 2022
The African continent has been always the scene of various human and material disasters resulting from armed conflicts and bad governance, exacerbated by the increasing state of poverty the vast majority of Africans in rural area already live in. In this regard, many organizations have been trying to solve human rights problems and facilitate the life of this population. Despite all the challenges, these organizations alone or in collaboration with other organizations have been able to achieve success, although there is still a long way to go for the full realization of human rights.
The year 2022 came to an end with many significant events and major political highlights in Africa. Some of the recent advances in addressing some human rights concerns, have been the adoption of a law against trafficking in persons and the abolition of the death penalty. The United Nations has also referred to the investigations and start of war crimes and crimes against humanity trials by the Special Criminal Court for the Central African Republic, and the recent establishment of the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission as some positive events taking place during 2022.
As another achievement, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights reported on making progress in the reduction of torture in places of deprivation of liberty and in accelerating the process of adopting texts on the protection of the rights of refugees, the rights of migrant workers, the rights of children and the rights of women. It has also made progress in advancing civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights throughout the African continent.
The year had also bright spots for democracy across the African Continent. The largely peaceful nature of Kenya’s General Elections was one of the democratic achievements. The Election Day was largely peaceful and orderly, with voters, who turned out in large numbers, expressing their commitment to peaceful elections. They also commended IEBC and polling staff for their respective roles in ensuring that the close of polls and counting of votes followed due process, with a high degree of transparency.
President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s expansion of media freedoms in Tanzania and announcement of some form of political reform before the 2025 General Elections are promising indications that continuing demands for political reform may bring about further liberalization of the country’s highly restrictive political system. The number of journalists being censured for their work in Tanzania fell slightly in 2022, raising hopes that press freedom is improving in the country, as 17 “press violations”, which include threats, arrests, denial of access to information and equipment seizures, were reported compared to 25 in 2021 and 41 in 2020.
As another instance, the Gambia continued to make democratic strides in 2022, with legislative elections and steps toward transitional justice that have marked important milestones in the democratization process that began in 2017. The Gambia has an active private sector, and the government has announced its support for encouraging local investment and attracting foreign direct investment. The government’s Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency is dedicated to attracting foreign investment and promoting exports and it provides guidelines and incentives to all investors whose portfolios qualify for a Special Investment Certificate.
On 23 April 2022, The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) delivered a statement under item 3 on the situation of human rights in Africa, with a particular focus on some positive developments on the African continent regarding the protection and promotion of the rights of defenders and the continued dire human rights situation in Egypt. Unfortunately, despite the recent positive steps, challenges persist. Protracted armed conflict has led to the forcible displacement of about one in four Central Africans, many of them multiple times. Thousands of children, women and men continue to live in constant fear for their lives and physical integrity. More than 60 per cent of the population is currently in need of humanitarian assistance and protection, with delivery of basic services, including education and healthcare, still severely impeded. Cases of summary and extrajudicial execution, arbitrary detention, torture, and conflict-related sexual violence continue to be reported. In Ethiopia, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and across the Sahel, conflict has undermined democratic progress.
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) (2022). ACHPR71: States in Africa must guarantee the effectiveness of human rights. www.ishr.ch/latest-updates/achpr71-states-in-africa-must-guarantee-the-effectiveness-of-human-rights/
OHCHR (2022). United Nations: Central African Republic: Top UN human rights official welcomes improvements, urges continued efforts, www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/10/central-african-republic-top-un-human-rights-official-welcomes-improvements
African Union (2022). Africa’s largest gathering on human rights issues: African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Ordinary Session 2022, www.au.int/en/pressreleases/20221024/africas-largest-gathering-human-rights-issues
The Commonwealth (2022). Kenya elections largely peaceful and transparent, say Commonwealth observers, www.thecommonwealth.org/news/kenya-elections-largely-peaceful-and-transparent-say-commonwealth-observers
The Guardian (2023). Hopes rise for press freedom in Tanzania as number of censured journalists falls, www.theguardian.com/global-development/2023/jan/09/tanzania-press-freedom-violations-president-suluhu
The Nigerian Observer (2022). Trends that defined democracy in Africa in 2022, www.nigerianobservernews.com/2022/12/trends-that-defined-democracy-in-africa-in-2022/
U.S. Department of State (2022). 2022 Investment Climate Statements: The Gambia, www.state.gov/reports/2022-investment-climate-statements/the-gambia/
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