Africa survey sees decline in rights, rule of law despite economic advancements

Africa survey sees decline in rights, rule of law despite economic advancements

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[JURIST] Many African nations are seeing a decline in democratic rights and the rule of law despite making economic advances, according to a survey [press release] Monday by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation [advocacy website]. The annual Ibrahim Index of African Governance [text, XLS], established in 2007 by Sudanese businessman Mo Ibrahim [profile], assesses 88 indicators, including the overall governance, safety and rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity and human development in 53 African nations. Ibrahim noted that the 2010 Index reflects a “mixed picture about recent progress on governance” across Africa, showing that citizens are “healthier and have greater access to economic opportunities,” but experience dangers to personal safety and are “less political enfranchised.” Former Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) [advocacy website] Salim Ahmed Salim [official profile], said:

We must ensure that the political side of governance in Africa is not neglected. We have seen from evidence and experience across the world that discrepancies between political governance and economic management are unsustainable in the long term. If Africa is going to continue to make progress we need to pay attention to the rights and safety of citizens.

The quality of the overall governance remains generally consistent with previous surveys, but there are significant variations among the countries examined. Mauritius, Seychelles, Botswana, Cape Verde and South Africa led the overall governance ranking with Angola, Liberia and Togo showing significant improvements and Somalia, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zimbabwe, Eritrea and Sudan [JURIST news archives] falling at the bottom. Of the 53 African states observed, 41 improved in areas of sustainable economic opportunity, and 44 progressed in areas of human development, notable in categories of health and welfare. The survey also displayed general progress in areas of gender rights among African states. However, 35 states have experienced declines in areas of safety and rule of law and nearly two-thirds of African states declined in areas of participation and human rights.

Last month, the UN Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict called for an to end impunity [JURIST report] for leaders of militias and armed groups in the DRC, saying that perpetrators of mass rapes would face war crimes charges after Congolese rebel groups Mai Mai and the Democratic Liberation Force of Rwanda (FDLR) [GlobalSecurity backgrounders] raped between 150 and 200 women and children between July 30 and August 3 of this year. In April, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] released a report [materials; JURIST report] charging the government of Angola to take a stronger stand against corruption. Despite the nation’s large economic growth and increased stability following the end of the nation-wide civil war in 2002, the majority of its citizens’ lives fail to reflect the improvements, according to the report. A Freedom House [advocacy website] report [materials; JURIST report] released in March showed that women’s rights and opportunities have increased in nearly all Middle Eastern and North African countries over the last five years.