African indigenous leaders speak to Special Rapporteur on serious human rights issues in Africa
New York City
Members of IPACC met with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples, Dr James Anaya, to brief him on the most serious human rights crises in Africa.
Ms Kamira Nait Sid (Algeria) and a Tuareg representative from Mali (identity with held for safety reasons) spoke of the human rights and humanitarian crisis in northern Mali. The indigenous delegates, both members of the Congres Mondial Amazigh, the sub-regional indigenous peoples' network, highlighted the insecurity, human rights violations, food and water vulnerability, and the need to make sure that UN agencies understand what is happening and who is vulnerable.
Nait Sid and the Malian disputed the media representations that this is an issue about Islamic terrorism. They highlighted that the situation has been made more tense by foreign military and extractive industry initiatives, designed to secure oil and uranium, found in indigenous territories, for use by Western powers. In particular, the United States has been engaged in military support for regimes with serious human rights and governance problems, which are in conflict with their own citizens.
Similarly, Mr Vital Bambanze, Chair of IPACC and former Chair of the Expert Mechanisms on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) briefed Anaya on the continuing crisis and gross human rights violations in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Batwa people have repeatedly become victims of conflicts between other ethnic groups, also linked to resource extraction and competition. The situation remains highly unstable with reports of wide spread rape of indigenous women, massacres, torture and displacments. IPACC is particularly concerned that the UN mission to DRC has no policy on indigenous peoples or recognising their exceptional vulnerability.
Ms Ramatu Salli of MBOSCUCA, an Mbororo pastoralist advocacy organisation in Cameroon, remarked on the core issue of African states failing to respect indigenous land rights, mobility and resource conservation. The Sahelian belt is also highly stressed with risks of violence in Chad, Cameroon and Central African Republic. Human rights activists are regularly threatened by the State and others.
IPACC called on the SR to meet with the African Union, the Africa Group, and the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, as well as UN coordinating bodies to ensure that indigenous peoples are recognised, protected and included in decision making. Urgent attention is required in the conflict areas, and the degrading humanitarian situation and the association with extractive industries, foreign interventions, poor governance and land alienation on the continent.