July 2, 2003

Bush Trip to Africa, July 2003

U.S. President George W. Bush will be traveling to Africa from July
7-12, visiting Senegal, South Africa, Botswana, Uganda, and Nigeria.
This packet from Human Rights Watch includes material for each
stop along the way. It also includes a new report on violence in
northeastern Congo; the report is embargoed for newspapers appearing
on July 8, 2003.

If you have any questions about what's happening in Africa or about the
Bush administration's policy in the region, please contact Human Rights
Watch staffers at the emails and telephone numbers listed on a separate
contact sheet in this packet. You can also call the Human Rights Watch
communications department at 212-216-1832, or email HRWPress@hrw.org.

A brief overview of the Bush administration's policy toward Africa:

In his Africa speech on June 26, Bush stressed three themes:
establishing peace and security, the struggle against AIDS, and
development through aid and trade. The war on terror has also affected
the administration's Africa policy.

The Bush Administration's human rights agenda in Africa has been
primarily focused on Zimbabwe and, to a lesser extent, Sudan. The
primacy of the U.S. war on terrorism has meant that the United States
has given even less attention to Africa than might otherwise have been
expected. In the few African countries that the administration believes
are strategically valuable, particularly in the Horn of Africa, the
United States has often de-emphasized human rights issues.

Despite some interest in peacemaking and peacekeeping, the Bush
administration has not provided leadership in ending armed conflicts
ravaging large parts of Africa, including the wars in Burundi, the
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Liberia. With the exception of
Sudan, the Bush administration has tended to let the Europeans take the
lead in conflict resolution in Africa, as the British have done in
Sierra Leone and the French in Cote d'Ivoire and the DRC, while the
merely plays a supporting role.

The Bush administration has showed some interest in training African
armies to perform peacekeeping functions, launching the African
Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program. But at
the same time, it has threatened to cut military assistance to
in the region on the basis of their support for the new International
Criminal Court. Twenty-one African nations have ratified the ICC
treaty. But the Bush Administration has been twisting the arms of
African governments to sign bilateral agreements that would give
immunity to Americans from prosecution and undermine the integrity of
the court. While thirteen African governments have signed such
agreements, several important countries - including South Africa,
Nigeria, Kenya, and Ethiopia - have resisted this pressure. President
Bush's visit follows the July 1 deadline set by Congress for
to conclude these deals or risk losing military assistance.

The Bush administration has said that it would use the human rights
eligibility criteria of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA
AGOA II) as leverage to press for human rights improvements in Africa.
The law states that eligibility for AGOA includes labor rights and
rights criteria, and requires that the annual review of AGOA
include a careful examination of the human rights record of AGOA
partners, in addition to their political and economic reforms. Yet even
in countries where the AGOA review acknowledges that human rights
conditions are poor - such as in Côte d'Ivoire, Eritrea, and Rwanda -
AGOA eligibility was granted; only in Eritrea was there any indication
of the need for human rights improvements. By failing to consistently
use AGOA to press for an end to abuses in recipient countries, the
administration risks squandering a potentially useful tool in the
promotion of human rights in Africa.

The Bush administration also launched the Millennium Challenge Account
(MCA), expanding development assistance available for countries that
are, in President Bush's words, "ruling justly, investing in people,
and encouraging economic freedom." While the legislation for MCA is
still pending in Congress, the Bush administration holds it up as a new
approach to development assistance. The eligibility criteria for
assistance through the MCA do not explicitly include human rights, but
address broader issues of good governance. The impact of MCA in Africa
is likely to be minimal, since only a couple of African countries are
expected to qualify.

Energy security remains a key concern for the Bush administration. The
administration specifically highlighted its interest in pursuing
oil resources as substitutes for oil from the Middle East. Although the
U.S. periodically raised the issue of transparency and good governance
in countries like Angola, it appeared to place a greater priority on
solidifying relationships with major and emerging African oil
producers. Little or no public mention is made by U.S. officials of
extrajudicial killings and other abuses by Nigerian security forces in
the Niger Delta oil region or elsewhere.

Human rights defenders and other civil society activists constitute a
highly dynamic force for change in Africa. Yet these activists
frequently operate in limiting political environments and face serious
security risks, including in Côte d'Ivoire, the DRC, Rwanda, Ethiopia,
Eritrea, Liberia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. Human rights advocates play a
central role in holding governments accountable and promoting the
conditions needed for sustainable development. They deserve the Bush
administration's full support.
During his visit, President Bush should seek meetings with civil
and human rights activists and underscore the U.S. commitment to help
open the political space for them to operate, and to defend them when
they are attacked by governments or rebel groups that seek to silence

Stop Number One: Senegal and West Africa

Key question for the Bush team here: what to do about Liberia? Will the
U.S. lead an intervention in Liberia? Send U.S. troops to join a
regional or United Nations force? Or merely provide financial and
political support for such an undertaking? A second issue will be the
mandate of any future intervention force, which should include U.N.
authorization to protect civilians.

Liberia has returned to full-scale armed conflict over the last few
years, with two rebel groups pitted against Charles Taylor's regime.
Many members of Liberian rebel groups were part of other warring
factions in Liberia's brutal war of 1989 -1996. With the support of
neighboring governments, they have now re-grouped and re-armed, and
initiated a new phase of war in Liberia.

The two rebel groups, the Liberians United for Reconciliation and
Democracy (LURD) and a splinter group of ex-LURD members called the
Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), now control the majority of
the country. A ceasefire agreement was signed on June 17 in Ghana
between the government and two rebel groups, but renewed fighting has
threatened the accord. In late June, troops from the LURD entered and
then retreated to the outskirts of Monrovia, prompting mass
and reports of numerous deaths of civilians in and around the town.

While Liberian government forces have routinely abused civilians,
including through executions, torture, arbitrary detentions, and the
recruitment of child soldiers, civilians living in rebel-controlled
territory have fared little better. Thousands of civilians are
displaced in rapidly deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Monrovia.
Outside the capital, the remainder of the population is largely
inaccessible to humanitarian assistance. As required by the ceasefire
agreement, a joint verification team was deployed to Monrovia soon
the ceasefire was signed, but its activity stalled with the resumption
of fighting. All three parties to the conflict have agreed to
cooperate with an international stabilization force, which is expected
to deploy as soon as its composition and leadership is determined and
there is a lull in the fighting.

The recurrent instability in West Africa has prompted several
peacekeeping initiatives. Some of the more successful efforts include
the British intervention in Sierra Leone and the coordinated French and
West African action in Ivory Coast. As a nation founded by former
American slaves, Liberia is widely considered to be the special
responsibility of the United States, and all eyes are on Washington for
a deployment that will defuse the current conflict.

The future of President Charles Taylor is uncertain. On June 4 the
Sierra Leone Special Court announced its indictment and arrest warrant
against him. Although Taylor initially committed to stepping down,
recent statements appeared to backtrack. The United States must support
his indictment and state clearly that it will provide no safe haven for
Taylor, who should be prosecuted for his crimes. At the same time, the
Bush team should lay out a plan for strengthening the ceasefire,
stabilizing the country, and committing U.S. resources to rebuild
post-war Liberia.

As Human Rights Watch has documented, civilians and neighboring states
have long borne the brunt of the spillover effect of the Liberian wars.
Guinea is home to more than 100,000 Sierra Leonean, Ivorian, and
Liberian refugees, but the Guinean government has also contributed to
the regional unrest by supporting the LURD rebels, thereby violating a
U.N. arms embargo. Guinea is currently a U.N. Security Council member
and the United States should announce its intention to support
against Guinea if it does not cease its support for the LURD.

Côte d'Ivoire has been wracked by civil war for the past eight months
and Ivorian civilians in the west have suffered numerous abuses due to
the spillover of the Liberian conflict. A ceasefire is in force and the
government of reconciliation is making some progress in Abidjan, but
Ivorian peace remains fragile. The United States should support efforts
to bring abusive fighters to justice, including Liberian fighters who
operate in Côte d'Ivoire, and ensure that adequate funding is available
to humanitarian and development agencies bringing urgently needed
assistance to the devastated western region.

Stop Number Two: South Africa

Key question for the Bush team: how to bolster Mbeki's regional
leadership while encouraging his engagement on human rights issues that
the U.S. considers important.

South Africa is emerging as a strong continental leader. President
Thabo Mbeki has been at the forefront of efforts to strengthen regional
governance through the re-conceived African Union (AU) and the launch
the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). In these
Mbeki has supported greater accountability and transparency, including
respect for human rights. The Bush team will want to engage Mbeki in
public pressure on human rights conditions in Zimbabwe, and in
statements on antiretroviral drugs for AIDS.

Under Mbeki's leadership, South Africa has played a growing role in
continental peace efforts. In Burundi, South Africa has worked to
establish the interim power-sharing government and to facilitate
cease-fire agreements. Mbeki has played an important role in the peace
process for the Democratic Republic of Congo, including hosting the
Inter-Congolese dialogue, which led to the current power-sharing
government. South Africa has also contributed troops to the
multinational emergency intervention force in Bunia.

The Group of Eight major powers (G8) has agreed to mobilize technical
and financial support for the creation of an African Standby Force for
conflict prevention and rapid response to emergency situations. Beyond
this, Bush should support South African and other regional initiatives
to promote peace. He should voice his support for African Union
programs such as the Peace and Security Council, which will be
established at the AU Summit in July.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is raging in South Africa, with millions already
living with the disease. Unfortunately, the government is resisting
providing basic care and treatment programs, including those to prevent
mother-to-child HIV transmission (MTCT). President Mbeki, supported
strongly by Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, has publicly
stated that he believes HIV does not cause AIDS and that antiretroviral
drugs, which have transformed the lives of millions around the world,
are unproven or "toxic." MTCT services, so crucial to save newborns
from being born HIV-positive, were supported by the government only
after a court case brought by AIDS activists mandated the action.

AIDS activists and COSATU, the country's biggest labor union, have
helped create a strong nationwide movement in favor of treatment for
people with AIDS, which will undoubtedly play an important role in next
year's elections. Former president Nelson Mandela has urged the
government to do more for people with AIDS. President Bush should
encourage President Mbeki to do everything possible to advance AIDS
prevention, treatment and care programs.

Zimbabwe has fallen into a political, humanitarian and human rights
crisis that shows little promise of improvement. After the government's
proposed new constitution was defeated in a referendum in February
abuses by police and security forces increased sharply, especially
against the opposition MDC (Movement for Democratic Change). White-
commercial farms were invaded, sometimes by mobs that were sponsored by
the state, and the government failed to take firm action against the

Since his controversial reelection in 2002, President Robert Mugabe has
clamped down on freedom of the press and on civil rights, resulting in
violent beatings by police officers, arbitrary arrests, and harassment
of the political opposition, human rights activists and the media,
other abuses.

Zimbabwe's "fast-track" land reform policies have severely exacerbated
drought-induced food shortages by crippling Zimbabwe's farm industry.
Agricultural production was less than 30% of normal capacity this year.
Further, the politicization of both government and international
humanitarian food aid programs has left millions of Zimbabweans
malnourished and hungry.

The Bush administration has strongly and publicly condemned the human
rights abuses and lack of rule of law in Zimbabwe, and imposed a visa
ban on Zimbabwe's leaders, freezing their assets abroad. President
should continue to speak out about these abuses, and should support the
regional efforts by the African Union and the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) to help solve the crisis. The U.S. should
continue to support humanitarian assistance for Zimbabwe's population
but should reverse the USAID decision not to provide food aid to
resettled farmers based on USAID's objection to the "fast-track" land
reform program.


Stop Number Three: Botswana

HIV/AIDS will be a central theme throughout President Bush's trip, but
it may be a particular focus on Botswana, where the HIV/AIDS infection
rates are over 36 percent, and even higher in some parts of the

Key question for the Bush team on AIDS: will they ensure access to AIDS
drugs and support prevention messages that include condoms?

Bush administration officials will focus on the President's Emergency
Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDS,
Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2003, which is designed to provide $15
billion over the next five years to fourteen countries, twelve in
sub-Saharan Africa, including $1 billion to the Global Fund for
HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria. President Bush signed the bill into law on
May 27, although the funding has not yet been appropriated by Congress.

The U.S. president should insist that programs to reduce discrimination
against women and girls should be a central part of fighting HIV/AIDS.
This includes strong support for girls education and for keeping
safe for girls; reduction of unequal property and inheritance laws that
contribute to women's economic dependence and fall especially heavily
women widowed by AIDS; good access to reproductive health services; and
basic protections against sexual violence, abuse and coercion,
domestic violence. U.S. support for strengthening rape prevention
programs and programs that provide legal and medical services to rape
survivors would be an important step.

In the United States, the Bush administration has financed "abstinence
only until marriage" programs that crowd out comprehensive sex
in U.S. schools. These programs teach that abstinence is the most
reliable means of preventing HIV transmission, and that condoms are not
reliable or effective for this purpose. Such ideas leave young people
without an understanding of basic HIV prevention.

The abstinence program is now being exported to Africa, where
abstinence-only programs are inherently incompatible with the realities
of abuse and discrimination that women and girls face. This espousal of
abstinence-only as the central prevention message is likely to have a
destructive effect on promising initiatives to provide education on HIV
and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) to young people.

In addition, many parts of Africa face condom shortages that will only
get worse if the U.S. pursues an anti-condom policy. The president
should speak out in favor of continued support for access to condoms
comprehensive HIV/STD education programs.

The Bush administration has insisted that the success of Uganda against
HIV/AIDS was due in large part to the country's reliance on
"abstinence-only" approaches to education about HIV. In fact, Uganda's
success in reducing HIV prevalence was built to a significant degree on
increased use of condoms, and education programs have relied on a range
of prevention messages.

The U.S. government continues to block international agreements that
could be the best hope for generic medicines for Africa. At the World
Trade Organization summit in Doha in November 2001, the U.S. agreed
other member states that the WTO should give primacy to urgent public
health concerns over intellectual property protection. The member
agreed to flesh out an agreement by December 2002 that would facilitate
the issuing of compulsory licenses and other measures that would enable
countries, especially low-income countries, to get the lower-cost drugs
they need to stem epidemics, including HIV/AIDS.

There is still no agreement, largely because the U.S. Trade
Representative has blocked consensus positions that have emerged. The
best thing that President Bush could do for African countries affected
by HIV/AIDS would be to ensure that the U.S. Trade Representative stop
representing the interests of pharmaceutical companies and start
reflecting the president's stated goal of leadership against HIV/AIDS
Africa. The U.S. should support the post-Doha consensus that it
last February, which would facilitate optimal use of the World Trade
Organization public health provisions for all countries. Further, the
U.S. should pledge not to pursue trade sanctions or other punitive
measures against any country making use of compulsory licenses or
engaging in domestic manufacture of generic antiretroviral drugs.


Stop Number Four: Uganda (plus Great Lakes and Sudan)

The stop at Entebbe will likely provide the chance to announce any new
policies toward the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). President Bush
may also speak about the conflict in Sudan and should address abuses by
the government of Uganda.

Key question for the Bush team: will they publicly condemn the role
played by Uganda and Rwanda, two key U.S. allies in Africa, in the war
in neighboring Congo?

Despite three peace agreements aimed at ending the five-year-old
Congolese war, fighting in eastern DRC intensified in late 2002 and
early 2003. The current violence in Bunia is only the latest episode in
this war that has left an estimated 3.3 million civilians dead
throughout the Congo, a toll that makes it more deadly to civilians
any other since World War II. The conflict in the DRC presents the
administration with a critical test of what resources it is willing to
invest to protect civilians.

Human Rights Watch will release a major new report about the violence
Ituri on July 8, 2003. For journalists reading the report online,
use the username "ituri" and access-code "drc0703" to access the report
on an embargoed basis at http://docs.hrw.org/embargo/ituri/. After July
8, the full report will be available at www.hrw.org.

War crimes, crimes against humanity and other violations of
international humanitarian and human rights law have been carried out
a massive scale in Ituri. Armed groups have massacred civilians, often
solely on the basis of their ethnicity. They have also committed
summary executions, rapes, arbitrary arrests, and torture. All groups
have recruited children for military service, some as young as seven
years old. Armed groups have deliberately prevented humanitarian
agencies from delivering assistance to people whom they have defined as
their enemies, resulting in further deaths.

In May, the U.N. Security Council authorized an Interim Emergency
Multinational Force for Bunia, with a Chapter VII mandate, which allows
it to use force to protect themselves and civilians. However, the force
has no authority to act outside of Bunia. The fate of many of these
people is unknown. Hema and Lendu armed groups remain fully armed and
ready to attack again although they have temporarily retreated from
Bunia town, as required by the Interim Emergency Multinational Force.
Tens of thousands of civilians have fled to Bunia, joining more than
500,000 displaced from previous fighting.

Ugandan forces, the occupying power in Ituri from 1998 until its
withdrawal in May 2003, largely aggravated rather than calmed ethnic
political hostilities. The Ugandan army became involved in a land
dispute between the Hema and Lendu ethnic groups in 1999. It conducted
joint operations with Lendu and Ngiti militias to dislodge the Hema
Bunia in March 2003. Meanwhile, in the past year, the political group
known as RCD-Goma (backed by Rwanda) and the RCD-ML (backed by the DRC)
became increasingly active in the area, contributing to further
and backing new armed groups.

The U.N. peacekeeping force, MONUC, with some 700 troops in Bunia, has
had no capability to protect civilians and has been completely
overwhelmed. The force lacks a robust mandate like that of the Interim
Emergency Multinational Force for Ituri and has proved ineffective in
quelling the violence and protecting civilians.

The Bush administration has so far had two main objectives in the DRC:
the withdrawal of foreign troops, and the establishment of a
transitional government. At the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. backed
the multinational force for Ituri, but so far has provided no financial
or logistical assistance for it. The U.S. has also been reluctant to
support the enhanced mandate necessary to allow MONUC troops to protect
civilians, apparently because of concerns about the effectiveness and
cost of the peacekeeping operation. Washington should support a
strengthening of the overall MONUC mandate to ensure it is robust
to protect civilians both in Ituri and elsewhere -- particularly after
the Interim Emergency Multinational Force leaves in September.

The U.S. has long provided substantial support to Uganda, not just
because of its apparent success in economic development and combating
HIV/AIDS, but also because it offered assistance in curbing the power
the Sudan. When President Bush met with Ugandan President Museveni on
June 10, he reportedly warned him about continuing Ugandan involvement
in the DRC, including its support of proxy militias, and urged him to
open up the Ugandan political system. U.S. officials did not deliver
such messages publicly, however, fostering the perception that the U.S.
is biased in favor of Uganda. In December 2002, the Bush
certified that Uganda was again eligible for preferential trading
under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) even though human
rights performance is one of the criteria for qualification.

The U.S. State Department has been more open in criticizing Rwanda for
its "poor" human rights record, citing both violations committed by its
soldiers in the DRC and other abuses at home. However, the White House,
satisfied by Rwandan withdrawal of its regular units from the DRC, has
adopted a more lenient approach. In March 2003 the Bush administration
declared Rwanda eligible for the AGOA program despite its poor human
rights record.

When President Bush is in Africa, he should publicly call on the
Ugandan, Rwandan and DRC governments not to provide any military or
financial assistance to the armed groups in Ituri. President Bush
urge the government of the DRC to make reform of the national justice
system a priority so as to better prosecute and punish those
for violations of international humanitarian law and serious human
rights abuses. The U.S. government should also support the
of some kind of international tribunal to hold accountable those most
responsible for such crimes, whether citizens of the DRC or of other
nations. Such a court must function with full independence and
impartiality and according to international standards of due process.

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda is a favorite of international
donors because of his social and economic outlook. But he has long
tolerated serious abuses by Ugandan forces in northern Uganda. The
seventeen-year war against the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is a
stalemate in which the Acholi community-the ethnic group predominating
in the three northwestern war-torn districts-has been punished
mercilessly by both sides.

The Ugandan army (Ugandan People's Defense Forces, UPDF) and security
forces commit multiple abuses against the population, such as rape,
torture, recruitment of child soldiers, and prolonged arbitrary
detention. The government rarely punishes its forces for these crimes.

The government's abuses were obscured until recently by the brutality
the LRA, which targets children to serve as soldiers, porters, slaves
servants, and concubines- abducting more than 8,500 children from June
2002-May 2003, more than in any other comparable period. The children
are brutalized, then trained as soldiers; many are forced to kill other
children and sometimes even family members. The LRA also targets
Catholic clergy, suspected informers, civilians living in displaced
persons camps, and vehicles carrying relief supplies.

Abuses by the government UPDF soldiers and Local Defense Units have
produced a resentful northern population. Some 70 percent of the
population in the Acholi districts-a staggering 800,000 persons-has

In the north and throughout Uganda, opposition multipartists and
ordinary people are increasingly subjected to prolonged arbitrary
detention under treason and anti-terrorism laws. The proliferation of
"safe houses," unacknowledged detention centers run by military
intelligence and security services, has been accompanied by more
of torture.

The Bush administration should work actively to end abuses in northern
Uganda, recognizing that a military solution has failed and that the
suffering for northern Ugandans has gone on too long. The U.S. should
use its leverage to see that the Ugandan government puts an end to
abuses by the UPDF and security forces and demonstrates a convincing
pattern of investigating and prosecuting those accused of abuses
throughout Uganda.

The U.S. should convince its partners in the Sudan peace talks to
include the LRA as an agenda item, because the Sudanese government is
again aiding the LRA in retaliation for the Ugandan government's
of the Sudanese rebels the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army
(SPLM/A). The Sudanese government must agree to discontinue all support
for the LRA.

The U.S. has been deeply committed to achieving a peaceful negotiated
solution to the larger and longer conflict in Sudan, which has taken as
many as two million lives in its twenty years. A peace agreement
the Sudanese government and the SPLM/A, targeted for signature this
year, should eliminate the need or excuse for Ugandan support for the
SPLM/A, which will become a partner in Sudanese government.

The Sudanese peace negotiations, however, have not brought an end to
that country's remarkably long record of human rights abuses, despite a
ceasefire signed in October 2002. The Sudanese government and its
southern ethnic militias have been attacking civilians in the southern
oilfields despite the ceasefire. The Sudanese government is throwing
most of its military resources into a war in Darfur in western Sudan,
area not even covered in the peace talks, where repression and impunity
for government militias that burn villages and kill civilians is
repeating the pattern of devastation visited on the south for the last
twenty years.

The Sudanese government has abused the rights of its citizens even
outside the war theatre with continuing torture (especially of
university students), prolonged arbitrary detention, recruitment of
child soldiers, off and on suspension of many newspapers and arrests
fines for news people. This essentially one-party state has not made
much progress toward opening up to civil and political rights for all
its citizens.

The SPLM/A, which has received enormous political and financial support
from the United States, is an authoritarian organization with a weak
political wing that will become a one-party government for the south
after the peace agreement-unless the U.S. takes firm steps to see that
the parties agree to extensive international monitoring of the human
rights provisions of the peace agreement. The U.S. should also ensure
that the parties agree to allow a neutral international team to conduct
elections (scheduled for national, regional, and local posts three
after the peace agreement) and the referendum on self-determination
scheduled for six and a half years after the peace agreement.


Stop Number Five: Nigeria

President Olusegun Obasanjo is just starting his second term in office.
Some aspects of Nigeria's human rights record have improved since he
first came to power in 1999, heading a civilian government after close
to thirty years of military rule in Nigeria, with only brief periods of
civilian rule, notably from 1979-1983. But Nigerians remain skeptical
of that progress as long as their government fails to bring to justice
perpetrators of serious human rights abuse, especially members of the
security forces.

Key question for the Bush team: will they publicly call on President
Obasanjo to punish members of his own security forces who are
responsible for serious abuses?

No one has yet been brought to justice for the military's massacre of
more than two hundred unarmed civilians in Benue State in October 2001,
or for their massacre of many hundreds of civilians in Odi, in Bayelsa
State, in November 1999 - the two most serious single incidents of
rights violations by the military since President Obasanjo came to
in May 1999. Furthermore, the government has not provided any official
response to the report of a judicial commission of inquiry into the
violence in Benue and neighboring states.

The military has committed many other serious abuses, not least in the
oil-rich Niger delta where they have been deployed for several years,
often clashing with members of local communities. The military's
response to local protests against oil company operations,
degradation and continuing poverty has been characterized by the
frequent use of excessive force and indiscriminate attacks against
entire communities. As tension persists in the delta region, further
outbreaks of violence seem likely.

Impunity for human rights abuses is not limited to the military.
Despite a number of sweeping reforms announced by the government and
Inspector General of Police, the police force has also continued to
commit systematic human rights abuses across the country, ranging from
extrajudicial killings to torture, arbitrary arrests, and excessive use
of force in responding to recurring ethnic violence throughout Nigeria.
Prosecutions of those responsible for these abuses remain rare.

The same impunity has protected political candidates and members of
political parties responsible for violence and intimidation around the
recent elections. The United States, along with other foreign
governments, welcomed the 2003 elections in Nigeria and described them
as generally "peaceful." Yet hundreds of people were killed or injured
in incidents of political violence in the months leading up to the
elections, and scores more were killed during the actual elections in
April and May 2003. Politicians of various parties, including the
ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP), employed thugs to terrorize
their opponents and intimidate voters, with the result that in some
areas, especially in the south, no voting took place at all. To date,
few of those implicated in incidents of political violence have been
investigated or prosecuted.

The U.S. government's public silence on these issues has contributed to
the general climate of impunity and has created the impression that
Nigeria's foreign partners are not concerned about human rights issues.

The United States has provided military assistance to Nigeria over the
last four years. A recent congressional initiative suspended some
Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and a program of International
Education and Training (IMET) to Nigeria, worth more than $3 million,
until the Nigerian government accounted for the military's actions in
Benue. This was a welcome step, but the Bush administration should do
more to demand concrete action to end impunity and prevent further
rights violations by the Nigerian military. The U.S. has supplied
several boats to the Nigerian navy to patrol its coastal waters, two of
which were delivered in April 2003, at a time of heightened tension in
the Niger delta. Several others are due to be delivered later in 2003
2004. The U.S. must monitor the use of these boats as well as other
equipment and assistance to ensure that they are not used to commit
human rights violations. Boats have been used by the Nigerian security
forces to launch indiscriminate attacks on local Niger Delta
in the recent past.