By Patrick Pierson.
A recent report from UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders Michel Forst highlights the dangers faced by activists in Honduras. This report from 2015 suggests Honduras is the most dangerous country in the world for environmental activists. While the government is certainly responsible for the protection of its citizens, development banks may also be implicated in the violence. In an effort to address drug-related violence in the country, the Honduran Naval Force is conducting operations with US Marines in an effort to more effectively combat trafficking. Similar trainings are also taking place in neighboring Guatemala.
In Africa, Ivorian musicians and performers crafted a unique response to recent terror attacks in the country. Meanwhile, the government announced over a dozen arrests in connection with the attack. On a related note, the detention of a suicide bomber in Cameroon turned heads this week when the young girl claimed to be one of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014.
The recent killing of a senior Burundian army officer raises fears of fracturing within the security forces, portending that a bad situation may become even worse. The stalemate between Nkurunziza and the AU in Burundi has some questioning the Union’s ability to respond adequately to crises on the continent. In nearby Uganda, refugees are pouring in from both Rwanda and South Sudan, placing stress on a country with plenty of its own problems regarding poverty and inequality. While often overlooked amidst a myriad of challenges, the fighting in South Sudan has also placed an enormous burden on higher education in the country. And despite ongoing conflict in eastern DRC, farmers are now exporting coffee to none other than Starbucks.
It’s been a big week for the International Criminal Court. In a landmark case that included sexual violence as a war-crime conviction, former Congo VP Jean-Pierre Bemba was held “criminally responsible” for the actions of his troops. The court also ordered the trial this week of Dominic Ongwen, a former member of Joseph Kony’s LRA militia in Uganda. In addition, the ICC will proceed with a full trial against Malian terrorist Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi for his attacks on the world heritage site of Timbuktu. Also of note in the realm of international justice, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison this week by a UN tribunal. Despite such victories for justice, this report highlights a number of gross human rights abusers who still remain at large.