African Rights  
 Working for Justice
Africa's problems seen from an African perspective


The genocide and mass murder in Rwanda presents a challenge to the international human rights community. The basic credibility of international commitment to upholding the convention against genocide is put into question by the failure, to date, of the United Nations to take meaningful action against those responsible for one of the grossest crimes against humanity of modern times. African Rights has published the most comprehensive and detailed account of the genocide and mass murder of political opposition that is available to date. This is being followed up with further human rights investigations.

Somalia and Somaliland

African Rights was established in December 1992 after the departure of Rakiya Omaar and Alex de Waal from Africa Watch, following our opposition to Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. We believed that the military intervention was not designed to address Somalia's real problems and was in fact destined to make things worse. Somalia has been a prime focus for African Rights' work. This has included working on the regeneration of civil institutions and the prospects for local peacemaking. Central to this is the need for disarmament. A second subject has been basic elements of the conflict in rural areas, specifically the disputes over ownership of land. Peace and stability will not return to Somalia until the conflict over resources is acknowledged and addressed. African Rights also continues to monitor the international operations in Somalia. In Somaliland, formerly north-west Somalia, African Rights has opened an office which has a programme of human rights education and research.


The extent of Sudan's human rights disaster is well-known. Sudanese Citizens have suffered a wide range of human rights abuses. African Rights is involved in documenting some of the neglected components of this disaster, namely the displaced people in and around Khartoum and the people of the Nuba Mountains. In southern Sudan, African Rights' project focusses on the components of a lasting peace and the need to build structures that can guarantee respect for human rights. This involves research on civil institutions such as the churches and the judiciary in areas controlled by the Sudan People's Liberation Army.

War, Women and Family Life

African Rights is conducting research into women's experience of war in Africa. This includes documenting the range of abuses that women suffer. Rape is the most extreme of these. Unfortunately it is also very common. Other abuses and burdens include economic responsibility for families and the deterioration of women's status under extremist ideologies that often flourish during periods of turbulence. However, war also presents opportunities for women who may obtain new freedoms.

Women and Access to Education

Women's relative lack of access to education in Africa is a serious injustice in itself and a contributor to many of the continent's most severe problems. One of the reasons why many girls and women fail to enter or complete their education is sexual harassment, by other students and teachers. African Rights' project is documenting various elements of this problem.

Obstacles to Justice

Human rights concerns with judicial systems often fail to venture beyond the formal independence of the judiciary and the freedom of leading lawyers. African Rights' project looks into the often mundane obstacles that prevent ordinary people in a range of African countries from obtaining justice. These problems may include difficulties and expense of travelling to court, knowledge of the law, advocates' and judges' demands for payment, and discrimination against women and minorities in the courts.

Human Rights and Freedom from Famine

Human rights abuses are intrinsic to the creation of famine. African Rights' project looks at different elements of this, using case studies from across the continent. Democratic accountability is the best inoculation against famine; abuses of rights to land, movement and livelihood often consign minority peoples to famine; warfare conducted in certain ways creates the most severe famines; and international organizations' lack of accountability enables them to operate with a shameful lack of effectiveness.
Director: Rakiya Omaar  
11 Marshalsea Road LONDON SE1 1EP. 
United Kingdom  
Tel.  ++44 171 717 1224  
Fax: ++44 171 717 1240
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