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Angola

Executive Summary

Angola is a constitutional republic. The ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) has been in power since independence in 1975. In August 2012, the government held the first presidential and legislative elections following the promulgation of the 2010 constitution. The MPLA received 71.8 percent of the vote, and in September 2012, President Jose Eduardo dos Santos began a five-year term as president under the new constitution.

Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control over the security forces.

The three most important human rights abuses were cruel, excessive, and degrading punishment, including reported cases of torture and beatings; limits on freedoms of assembly, association, speech, and press; and official corruption and impunity.

Other human rights abuses included arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life; harsh and potentially life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; lengthy pretrial detention; impunity for human rights abusers; lack of due process and judicial inefficiency; forced evictions without compensation; restrictions on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); harassment of and violence against women and children; child labor; trafficking in persons; limits on workers’ rights; and forced labor.

The government took some steps to prosecute or punish officials who committed abuses; however, accountability was weak due to a lack of checks and balances, lack of institutional capacity, a culture of impunity, and widespread government corruption.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The constitution and law prohibit such actions, but the government did not always respect these prohibitions. Civil organizations and politically active individuals, including government critics, members of opposition parties, and journalists, complained the government maintained surveillance of their activities and membership. These groups also frequently complained of threats and harassment based on their affiliations with groups that were purportedly or explicitly antigovernment. On July 29, Monica Almeida, the wife of “15+2” activist Luaty Beirao, was stopped by two police vehicles while driving in Luanda. Almeida alleged that police blocked her cell phone to prevent her from calling for help and ordered her to drive with the police vehicles for three hours as they proceeded aimlessly around the city, according to press reports. The police responsible later claimed they had mistaken Almeida for a suspected criminal and announced an investigation into the incident.

Burundi

Executive Summary

The Republic of Burundi is a constitutional, multiparty republic with an elected government. The 2005 constitution provides for an executive branch that reports to the president, a bicameral parliament, and an independent judiciary. In June, July, and August 2015 voters re-elected President Pierre Nkurunziza and chose a new National Assembly (lower house) in elections boycotted by independent opposition parties, who claimed Nkurunziza’s election violated legal term limits. International and domestic observers characterized the elections as largely peaceful but deeply flawed and not free, fair, transparent, or credible.

Civilian authorities at times did not maintain control over the security forces. Observers considered the military generally professional and apolitical, but the National Intelligence Service (SNR) and police tended to be influenced directly by, and responsive to, the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) party. Members of the CNDD-FDD’s youth group, the Imbonerakure, sometimes operated in cooperation with police, but often acted independently of any identifiable oversight. Imbonerakure members arrested persons with impunity, despite having no legal powers of arrest.

The most important human rights abuses in the country were extrajudicial killings, including reports of mass graves; arbitrary and politicized detention; and widespread government infringement of the freedoms of speech, press and media, assembly, and association.

Other human rights abuses included disappearances; harsh and sometimes life-threatening prison conditions; a highly politicized judicial system that lacked independence from the executive branch; and prolonged pretrial detention, often without formal charges. Authorities harassed and intimidated journalists and ordered the closure of civil society and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that criticized the government and the CNDD-FDD. Government corruption was a serious problem. Security forces reportedly raped women and girls, and widespread sexual and gender-based violence and discrimination against women and girls were serious problems. Human trafficking occurred. Discrimination occurred against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community, persons with disabilities, and persons with albinism. Authorities did not respect labor rights, and forced child labor existed.

The reluctance of police and public prosecutors to investigate and prosecute and of judges to hear cases of government corruption and human rights abuse in a timely manner resulted in widespread impunity for government and CNDD-FDD officials.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The constitution and law provide for the right to privacy and require search warrants, but authorities did not always respect these rights. Police, SNR agents, and Imbonerakure members–sometimes acting as mixed security committees–set up roadblocks and searched vehicles for weapons. They conducted search-and-seizure operations in contested neighborhoods of Bujumbura throughout the year. During these searches security agents seized weapons and household items they claimed could be used to supply an insurgency, including large cooking pots and mosquito nets.

Individuals often needed membership in, or perceived loyalty to, a registered political party to obtain or retain employment in the civil service and the benefits that accrued from such positions, such as transportation allowances, free housing, electricity, water, exemption from personal income taxes, and interest-free loans.

Central African Republic

Executive Summary

The Central African Republic is a presidential republic. After a three-year transitional government, most recently led by Catherine Samba Panza from January 2014 to March 2016, voters elected President Faustin-Archange Touadera in a February run-off. A new constitution came into effect on March 30, approved by 93 percent of voters in a December 2015 referendum; voter turnout was 38 percent. International observers reported both the presidential elections and constitutional referendum were free and fair, despite reports of irregularities. The constitution established a bicameral parliament, with a directly elected National Assembly and an indirectly elected Senate. On January 25, the Transitional Constitutional Court annulled the December 30 National Assembly elections due to widespread irregularities, voter intimidation, and fraud and ordered new elections. On May 3, the National Assembly was seated following several rounds of new elections; elections for the Senate were not held, and no date had been announced.

Civilian authorities did not maintain effective control over the security forces, and state authority barely extended beyond the capital, Bangui. Armed groups controlled significant swaths of territory throughout the country and acted as de facto governing institutions, taxing local populations, providing security services, and appointing armed group members to leadership roles.

The most serious human rights problems included arbitrary and unlawful killings, especially those perpetrated by the ex-Seleka and groups known as the anti-Balaka. (Note: This report refers to the “ex-Seleka” for all abuses attributed to the armed factions associated with Seleka, including the Popular Front for the Renaissance in the Central African Republic or FPRC, Union for Peace (UPC), and Patriotic Movement for Central African Republic or MPC, which occurred after the Seleka was dissolved in September 2013). Beginning in 2012 the violence claimed thousands of lives. More than 800,000 persons remained internally displaced or had fled to neighboring countries. Enforced disappearances, torture, and sexual violence, including rape, continued.

Other human rights problems included harsh and life-threatening conditions in prisons and illegal detention facilities; arbitrary arrest and detention; delays in re-establishing a functional judicial system, resulting in prolonged pretrial detention; seizure and destruction of property without due process; and the use of excessive and indiscriminate force in internal conflict. There were restrictions on freedom of movement. Many internally displaced persons lacked protection and access to basic services, especially outside Bangui. Corruption was widespread. Domestic and international human rights groups faced harassment and threats. Discrimination and violence were experienced by women; children; persons with disabilities; ethnic minorities; indigenous people; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons; individuals with HIV/AIDS; Christians; and Muslims. Forced labor and child labor, including forced child labor, and use of child soldiers were also problems.

The government did not take steps to investigate and prosecute officials who committed violations, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government, creating a climate of impunity that was reinforced by a general lack of citizen access to judicial services. There were numerous allegations that peacekeepers and staff in UN missions sexually abused adults and children in the country during the year (see section 1.c.).

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The law prohibits searches of homes without a warrant in civil and criminal cases, and there were no reports the government failed to respect these prohibitions.

The country’s administrative and commercial infrastructure remained significantly damaged or destroyed due to widespread looting and pillaging in 2013.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Executive Summary

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a nominally centralized constitutional republic. Voters popularly elect the president and the lower house of parliament (National Assembly). Under the constitution the president’s second and final term in office expired on December 19. The government, however, failed to organize elections by year’s end in accordance with constitutional deadlines. On December 31, the government and opposition parties agreed to a power-sharing arrangement and holding elections by the end of December 2017. The country’s most recent presidential and National Assembly elections, which many local and international observers characterized as lacking in credibility and seriously flawed, were held in 2011.

Civilian authorities did not always maintain control over the security forces.

Armed conflict in the east exacerbated an already precarious human rights situation.

The most significant human rights problems included unlawful killings; torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment and punishment; and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), including rapes and abductions.

Other major human rights problems included disappearances; life-threatening conditions in prisons and detention facilities; arbitrary arrests and prolonged pretrial detention; arbitrary interference with privacy, family, and home; abuse of internally displaced persons (IDPs); arbitrary arrests and prolonged detention; harassment of civil society and opposition leaders and the inability of citizens to change their government; corruption at all levels of government; and restrictions on freedom of speech and press. Societal discrimination and abuse–particularly against women, children, persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities, and indigenous persons; the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community, and persons with albinism–were problems. Trafficking in persons and forced labor, including of children, occurred, as did violations of worker rights.

Despite modest improvements, authorities often took no steps to investigate, prosecute, or punish officials who committed violations, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government, and impunity for human rights abuses was a problem.

Rebel and militia groups (RMGs) continued to commit abuses, primarily in the east, but also in Katanga and Orientale provinces. These abuses included unlawful killings, disappearances, torture, and SGBV. RMGs also recruited, abducted, and retained child soldiers and compelled forced labor. The government took military action against some RMGs but had limited ability to investigate abuses and bring the accused to trial (see section 1.g.).

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

Although the law prohibits arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence, SSF routinely ignored these provisions. The SSF harassed and robbed civilians, entered and searched homes and vehicles without warrants, and looted homes, businesses, and schools. In February, PNC officers invaded the house of and ultimately arrested six LUCHA members in Goma. The activists were preparing posters for a demonstration planned for later that day. The SSF also conducted house-to-house searches and arrests in Kinshasa following the September 19-20 protests. Local human rights NGOs reported that between December 16 and 21, SSF conducted house-to-house searches in certain Kinshasa neighborhoods and arrested youth with suspected links to protests.

Republic of the Congo

Executive Summary

The Republic of the Congo is a parliamentary republic in which the constitution, promulgated in November 2015, vests most decision-making authority and political power in the president and prime minister. In October 2015 citizens adopted the new constitution by a 94 percent vote, but the opposition and international community questioned the credibility of the referendum process and results. The new constitution changed previous maximum presidential term limits from two terms of seven years to three terms of five years and provided complete immunity to former presidents. On April 4, the Constitutional Court proclaimed the incumbent, Denis Sassou N’Guesso, winner of the March 20 presidential election with 60 percent of the vote and almost 69 percent voter turnout. Domestic nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), opposition candidates, foreign governments, and international organizations questioned the validity of the results and cited electoral irregularities. The government held the most recent legislative elections in 2012 for 137 of the national assembly’s 139 seats. The African Union declared those elections free, fair, and credible, despite numerous irregularities. While the country has a multiparty political system, members of the president’s Congolese Labor Party (PCT) and its allies held almost 90 percent of legislative seats, and PCT members occupied almost all senior government positions.

Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control over the security forces.

On April 4, gunfire and explosions in Brazzaville killed 17 persons, including three police officers, two civilians, and 12 attackers, according to the government. The violence displaced more than 17,000 persons, who fled their southern Brazzaville neighborhoods for safer parts of the city. The government blamed the Ninja/Nsiloulou, a former rebel group from the 1997-2003 civil war. Frederic Bintsamou, also known as Pastor Ntumi, the group’s leader, denied responsibility. Many observers suggested the government coordinated the entire operation as a political distraction from the Constitutional Court’s impending declaration of the presidential election results and to instill a climate of fear and intimidation. On April 5, the government launched security operations in the Pool region outside of Brazzaville to locate the Ninja/Nsiloulou and Pastor Ntumi. During the operation, thousands more in the Pool region were displaced from their homes. According to a June joint UN-Ministry of Social Affairs and Humanitarian Action humanitarian assessment report, hundreds of civilian homes were burned, with one documented death. The government initially denied access to the region to several international and local humanitarian assessment teams but later granted access with government escorts. A UN-led humanitarian assessment reported in June that more than 1,200 persons remained displaced in the Pool region, including 598 children. According to a December 9 statement by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), at least 13,000 persons, including thousands of children, remained internally displaced. Periodic violent roadside attacks persisted in the Pool region following the initial operation, during which time rape and physical assaults were committed. The national government-affiliated newspaper reported approximately 100 deaths in the affected area since April 1. While the government blamed Ninja/Nsiloulou for these attacks, the identity and affiliation of the perpetrators were unconfirmed.

The most significant human rights problems included arbitrary or unlawful killings by security forces, arbitrary arrests and the holding of political prisoners, and torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees by police.

Other major human rights abuses included: politically motivated disappearances; harsh detention conditions; lack of due judicial process; infringement of citizens’ privacy rights; restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association; harsh treatment of undocumented immigrants; restrictions on the ability of citizens to change their government peacefully; restrictions on the activities of opposition political groups; corruption on the part of officials and lack of transparency; discrimination against women; sexual and gender-based violence, including domestic violence, child abuse, and early marriage; trafficking in persons; lack of access for persons with disabilities; societal discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, particularly toward indigenous persons; discrimination based on nationality, particularly toward individuals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR), and Rwanda; discrimination based on sexual orientation and HIV/AIDS status; and child labor.

The government seldom took steps to prosecute or punish officials who committed abuses, whether in the security services or elsewhere in the government, and official impunity was a problem.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The constitution and law prohibit such actions; the government, however, did not always respect these prohibitions.

There were reports government authorities entered homes without judicial or other appropriate authorization; monitored private communications without appropriate legal authority, including e-mail, text messaging, or other digital communications intended to remain private; monitored private movements; accessed personal data and employed informer systems.

For example, on March 31, police issued fines of 500,000 CFA francs, ($856) under threat of permanent closure to shop owners who had closed during a March 29 general stay-at-home strike called by the opposition to protest the provisional results of the presidential election, announced on March 22.

Between January and June, there were dozens of reports police entered homes without judicial authorization, often in the middle of the night, to conduct searches and arrests.

Rwanda

Executive Summary

Rwanda is a constitutional republic dominated by a strong presidency. The ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) led a governing coalition that included four smaller parties. In 2010 voters elected President Paul Kagame to a second seven-year term with 93 percent of the vote. Three other registered political parties participated in the presidential election. In 2013 elections were conducted for parliament’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies. Candidates from the RPF and two other parties that supported RPF policies won all of the open seats, and election observers reported numerous flaws, including possible irregularities in the vote tabulation process. In 2015 the country held a constitutional referendum; the National Electoral Commission reported 98 percent of registered voters participated, and 98 percent endorsed a set of amendments that included provisions that would allow the president to run for up to three additional terms in office.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over state security forces (SSF).

The most important human rights problems were government harassment, arrest, and abuse of political opponents, human rights advocates, and individuals perceived to pose a threat to government control and social order; security forces’ disregard for the rule of law; and restrictions on media freedom and civil liberties. Due to restrictions on the registration and operation of opposition parties, citizens did not have the ability to change their government through free and fair elections.

Other major human rights problems included arbitrary or unlawful killings; torture and harsh conditions in prisons and detention centers; arbitrary arrest; prolonged pretrial detention; government infringement on citizens’ privacy rights and on freedoms of speech, assembly, and association; government restrictions on and harassment of some local and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), particularly organizations that monitored and reported on human rights and media freedoms; some reports of trafficking in persons; and government restrictions on labor rights; and child labor.

The government in many cases took steps to prosecute or punish officials who committed abuses, including within the security services, but impunity involving civilian officials and the SSF was a problem.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

Although the constitution and law prohibit such actions, there were numerous reports the government monitored homes, movements, telephone calls, e-mail, other private communications, and personal and institutional data. There were reports of government informants working within international and local NGOs, religious organizations, and other social institutions.

The law requires police to obtain authorization from a state prosecutor prior to entering and searching citizens’ homes. According to human rights organizations, the SSF at times entered homes without obtaining the required authorization.

The penal code provides legal protection against unauthorized use of personal data by private entities, although officials did not invoke these provisions during the year.

RPF members regularly visited citizens’ homes seeking contributions to the political party and the government’s Agaciro Development Fund, established by the government in 2012 to accelerate the country’s independence from international aid.

Tanzania

Executive Summary

The United Republic of Tanzania is a multiparty republic consisting of the mainland region and the semiautonomous Zanzibar archipelago, whose main islands are Unguja (Zanzibar Island) and Pemba. The union is headed by a president, who is also the head of government. Its unicameral legislative body is the National Assembly (parliament). Zanzibar, although part of the union, has its own government with a president, court system, and legislature and exercises considerable autonomy. In October 2015 the country held its fifth multiparty general election. Voting in the union and Zanzibari elections was judged to be largely free and fair, resulting in the election of a union president (John Magufuli). The chair of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission, however, declared the parallel election for Zanzibar’s president and legislature nullified after only part of the votes had been tabulated, precipitating a political crisis on the islands. New elections in Zanzibar in March were neither inclusive nor representative; the incumbent (Ali Mohamed Shein) was declared the winner with 91 percent of the vote.

Union security forces reported to civilian authorities, but civilian authorities at times did not maintain effective control over the security forces.

The most widespread human rights problems in the country were use of excessive force by security forces, resulting in death and injury; restrictions on assembly and political expression; and gender-based violence, including rape, domestic violence, and female genital mutilation/cutting.

Other major human rights problems included harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, lengthy pretrial detention, limits to freedom of expression on the internet, restrictions on religious freedom, restrictions on the movement of refugees, official corruption at many levels nationwide, child abuse, discrimination based on sexual orientation, mob killings and injuries, and societal violence against persons with albinism. Trafficking in persons, both internal and international, and child labor were also problems.

In some cases the government took steps to investigate and prosecute officials who committed abuses, but generally, impunity in the police and other security forces and civilian branches of government was widespread.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The law generally prohibits such actions without a search warrant, but the government did not consistently respect these prohibitions. While only courts may issue search warrants, the law also authorizes searches of persons and premises without a warrant if necessary to prevent the loss or destruction of evidence or if circumstances are serious and urgent. The law relating to terrorism permits police officers at or above the rank of assistant superintendent or in charge of a police station to conduct searches without a warrant in certain urgent cases, but there were no reports this occurred.

It was widely believed government agents monitored the telephones and correspondence of some citizens and foreign residents. The nature and extent of this practice were unknown.

Uganda

Executive Summary

Uganda is a constitutional republic led since 1986 by President Yoweri Museveni of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party. On February 18, voters re-elected Museveni to a fifth five-year term and returned an NRM majority to the unicameral National Assembly. The elections fell short of international standards and were marred by allegations of disenfranchisement and voter intimidation, harassment of the opposition, closure of social media websites, and lack of transparency and independence in the Electoral Commission.

Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control over the security forces.

The three most serious human rights problems in the country included lack of respect for individual integrity (unlawful killings, torture, arbitrary detention, and other abuse of suspects and detainees); restrictions on civil liberties (freedoms of press, expression, assembly, association, and political participation); and violence and discrimination against marginalized groups, such as women, children, persons with disabilities, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community.

Other human rights problems included harsh prison conditions, lengthy pretrial detention, official corruption, biased application of the law, societal violence, trafficking in persons, and child labor.

The government was reluctant to investigate, prosecute, or punish officials who committed human rights violations, whether in the security services or elsewhere in government, and impunity was a problem.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The constitution and law prohibit such actions, but there were reports the government failed to respect these prohibitions. Police did not always obtain search warrants to enter private homes and offices.

The Antiterrorism Act and the Regulation of Interception of Communications Bill authorize government security agencies to tap private conversations to combat terrorism-related offenses. The government utilized both statutes to monitor telephone and internet communications.

The government encouraged university students and government officials, including members of the judiciary, to attend NRM political education and military science courses known as “chaka mchaka.” While the government claimed the courses were not compulsory, human rights activists and opposition politicians reported authorities pressured civil servants and students to attend.

Zambia

Executive Summary

Zambia is a constitutional republic governed by a democratically elected president and a unicameral national assembly. On August 11, the country held elections under a new constitution for president, national assembly seats, and local government, as well as a referendum on an updated bill of rights. The incumbent, Patriotic Front (PF) President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, was re-elected by a tight margin. A contorted legal process saw the opposition candidate unsuccessfully challenge the election results. International and local observers deemed the election to have been conducted freely but cited a number of irregularities. The pre- and post-election periods were marred by limits on press freedom and political party intolerance resulting in sporadic violence across the country. Although the results were ultimately deemed a credible reflection of votes cast, media coverage, police actions, and legal restrictions heavily favored the ruling party and prevented the election from being genuinely fair.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights problems during the year were political violence; restrictions on freedoms of the press, assembly, association, and speech; and gender-based violence (GBV).

Other serious human rights problems included abuses by police; life-threatening prison conditions; politically motivated arbitrary arrest; prolonged pretrial detention; interference with privacy; government corruption; child abuse; trafficking in persons; discrimination against persons with disabilities and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community; and child labor.

The government took selective and halting steps to prosecute or punish officials who committed abuses, targeting mostly those who opposed the ruling party. Impunity remained a problem, as ruling party supporters were either not prosecuted for serious crimes or, if prosecuted, released after serving small fractions of prison sentences.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The constitution and law prohibit such actions, but the government frequently did not respect these prohibitions. The law requires a search or arrest warrant before police may enter a home, except during a state of emergency or when police suspect a person has committed an offense such as treason, sedition, defamation of the president, or unlawful assembly. Police routinely entered homes without a warrant even when a warrant was legally required. Domestic human rights groups reported authorities routinely detained, interrogated, and physically abused family members or associates of criminal suspects to obtain their cooperation in identifying or locating the suspects. In one of the more prominent examples, police teargassed and raided the family house of the opposition UPND’s vice presidential candidate on July 20, ostensibly to search for illegal weapons.

The law grants the Drug Enforcement Commission, ZSIS, and police authority to monitor communications using wiretaps with a warrant based on probable cause, and authorities generally respected this requirement. The government required cell phone service providers to register all subscribers’ SIM cards. Critics contended the government’s Zambia Information and Communications Technology Agency monitored telecommunications.

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