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Human rights concerns in Africa extend beyond Sudan

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WASHINGTON, Jan 13, 2005 (AP) — While raising its greatest concern about violence in the Darfur region of Sudan, Human Rights Watch also denounced other abuses throughout Africa.

Grave concerns remain about Zimbabwe, where repressive laws are used to suppress criticism of the government, Human Rights Watch said in its annual report Thursday.

In the Democratic Repubic of Congo, combatants fighting in the east continue killing, torturing and raping civilians, carrying out arbitrary arrests and destroying property.

Eritrea remains "a highly repressive state in which dissent is suppressed and non-governmental political, civic, social and minority religious institutions are largely forbidden to function," the report said.

In Ethiopia, security forces have illegally detained, tortured and killed political opponents and suspected insurgents.

The greatest concerns were raised about the violence in the Darfur region of Sudan, which the group described as a fundamental threat to human rights. It estimated 2 million civilians have been displaced by the government and militias and 70,000 people have died.

Improvements were noted in several countries, but concerns remain. Few serious abuses have taken place under the government of President Mwai Kibaki in Kenya, but potential for serious problems exist because much of the repressive state machinery remains from the presidency of Daniel arap Moi.

South Africa has laid the foundation for protecting human rights, but some problems remain, including excessive force by police and violence against women, the report said.

The rights situation in Sierra Leone "has improved vastly" since its civil war ended in 2002, but questions remain about the government’s willingness to guarantee economic, social and cultural rights.

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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