Human Rights Issues and Violations: The African Experience
In general discourse, human rights present problems of definition, scope, emphasis, limitations, access to impartial tribunals, and their jurisdictional scope. In Africa these issues are compounded in varying degrees by the basic condition of underdevelopment; by ideological orientations, whether capitalist or socialist; and by and large, by factors of religion and cultural traditions. The fact that most of Africa was subjugated by colonialism raises the problem of the appropriateness of imposed Judaeo-Graeco jurisprudence and institutions which emphasize litigation rather than conciliatory methods of settlement of disputes prevalent in African "traditional" societies. More critical, however, is the factor of underdevelopment which since the late 1970s has been characterized by stagnation, regression, and the increasing impoverishment, in absolute terms, of the majority of African peoples, an underdeveloped productive capacity and science and technology base, and the consequent inability to deal with problems of ecology and natural disasters. These factors are more evident in the rural sector where about 90 percent of the population lives--marginalized and alienated from the national and international movements in the field of human rights. They have also progressively led to the loss of national sovereignty and capacity for autonomous national decision making and a parallel development of foreign penetration and domination.