Tomorrow could mean life or death for Moses Akatugba

Moses Akatugba was 16 years old when he was arrested by the Nigerian police in 2005.

In the years that followed, he was beaten by the police, shot in the hand, and hung for hours at the police station. After 8 years of torture and ill treatment that led to a coerced confession of his involvement in a robbery, he was sentenced to death November 2013.

Moses’ case is sadly all too familiar in Nigeria, where a recent report by Amnesty International found the use of torture and ill-treatment to be rampant SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Torture, the Way of Life for the Nigerian Security Forces

Bxz_81jIIAI4rpvAn encounter with the Nigerian security forces can be a dangerous thing.

The police and military routinely engage in beating people in their custody with whips, gun butts, machetes, batons, sticks, rods and cables. Rape and sexual assault are widespread Detainees can be shot in the leg, foot or hand during interrogation, or have their nails or teeth extracted with pliers.

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African healthcare laid bare by Ebola epidemic

A street artist, Stephen Doe, paints an educational mural to inform people about the symptoms of the deadly Ebola virus in the Liberian capital Monrovia    ( DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)

A street artist, Stephen Doe, paints an educational mural to inform people about the symptoms of the deadly Ebola virus in the Liberian capital Monrovia. ( DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)

By Savio Carvalho, senior adviser on international development and human rights at Amnesty International.

Two years ago, I had the privilege of visiting Freetown and other parts of Sierra Leone where Amnesty International was training maternal health volunteers to monitor antenatal care. It was evident then that Sierra Leone’s health infrastructure was in a very poor state, undermined by years of war and lack of investment. But today, the outbreak of Ebola has meant that its struggling healthcare system, and others in neighboring African countries – particularly Liberia and Guinea – have been completely overwhelmed.

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Zone 9: The Growing Gulag in Ethiopia

Free Zone 9 Bloggers

(Credit: Hisham Almiraat, Global Voices Online)

In Ethiopia, an ever-increasing number of journalists, opposition members, activists, and other dissenting voices, are imprisoned in the eight zones of the infamous Kaliti Prison in Addis Ababa.

However, a ninth zone exists in Ethiopia, one that extends well beyond the walls of Kaliti. The inability to express thoughts freely without fearing for one’s safety represents a virtual ‘imprisonment’ for the vast majority Ethiopian citizens. It was with this principle in mind that “Zone 9” was created.

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Syria is a Dangerous Place for Journalists – But Here’s Why We Need Them There

James Foley once said he reported from the Middle East because, "We're not close enough to it. And if reporters, if we don't try to get really close to what these guys - men, women, American [soldiers] ... are experiencing, we don't understand the world" (Photo Credit: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images).

James Foley once said he reported from the Middle East because, “We’re not close enough to it. And if reporters, if we don’t try to get really close to what these guys – men, women, American [soldiers] … are experiencing, we don’t understand the world” (Photo Credit: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images).

After three years of the Syrian uprising, it often appears like the world is tuning out. Deaths continue on a daily basis, some 9 million Syrians are listed by the U.N. as either refugees or internally displaced people, but the situation is sliding out of attention on news broadcasts, in newspaper headlines and popular attention.

This is why the beheading of reporter James Foley is so important to anyone concerned about human rights in the region. It’s important not just because, as Amnesty International says, it is “a war crime,” but because Syria right now by most standards is now the most dangerous place in the world for journalists.

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Burned, Beaten, and Electrocuted: One Survivor’s Shocking Story of Torture in Morocco

Farida Aarrass has spent the last 5 years campaigning for justice for her younger brother Ali Aarrass (Photo Credit: Filip Claus/Amnesty International).

Farida Aarrass has spent the last 5 years campaigning for justice for her younger brother Ali Aarrass (Photo Credit: Filip Claus/Amnesty International).

By Jihane Bergaoui, Amnesty International USA Country Specialist for Morocco and Western Sahara

In December 2010, Ali Aarrass, a Belgian-Moroccan coffee shop owner was extradited from Spain to Morocco, where Moroccan intelligence held him in a secret prison for 12 days in Témara, near the capital city of Rabat.

Ali described the anguish his muscles and joints experienced while he was suspended from his wrists for extended periods of time, the searing pain of feeling his flesh being burned by cigarettes, enduring excruciating electric shocks to his testicles, having his head held under water until he fainted, being raped with a glass bottle, and having the soles of his feet beaten raw. He remained in the secret holding facility until he signed a “confession” pre-written for him in Arabic – a language he does not speak.

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Burundi in Crisis: Government Pursues Campaign of Intimidation

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza talks during an interview at the Westin hotel in Paris on June 4, 2014. (Photo credit: Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images)

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza talks during an interview at the Westin hotel in Paris on June 4, 2014 (Photo credit: Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images).

This blog posting is part of a series Amnesty USA is publishing to coincide with the U.S.-Africa Summitoccurring August 4-6, 2014. We are utilizing the series to highlight human rights concerns on the continent we feel critically need to be addressed during the summit discussions.

Contributed by Kenneth Harrow, Country Specialist on Burundi for Amnesty International USA

Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, a Burundian human rights defender, is one of the vital civil society members working for positive change in Africa. Sadly, his voice is currently silenced by the Burundi government.

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The U.S.-Africa Summit Sessions Zimbabwe’s Mugabe Missed

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe was not invited to the US-Africa summit happening this week, due to US sanctions, but the summit must keep Zimbabweans, many of whom have been suppressed and denied their basic human rights, in mind. (Photo Credit: Mike Segar-Pool/Getty Images)

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe was not invited to the US-Africa summit happening this week, due to US sanctions, but the summit must keep Zimbabweans, many of whom have been suppressed and denied their basic human rights, in mind. (Photo Credit: Mike Segar-Pool/Getty Images)

This blog posting is part of a series Amnesty USA is publishing to coincide with the U.S.-Africa Summit occurring August 4-6th, 2014. We are utilizing the series to highlight human rights concerns on the continent we feel critically need to be addressed during the summit discussions.

Contributed by Dr. Rowly Brucken, Zimbabwe Country Specialist for Amnesty International USA

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe was not invited to the U.S.-Africa summit this week, as he is currently subject to U.S. sanctions. But let’s imagine he was invited, and what he could have contributed to several events on just the first day:

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Swaziland Prisoners of Conscience Stay Behind Bars During U.S.-Africa Summit

Swaziland King Mswati III poses with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy prior to the 4th EU-Africa summit in April. (Photo credit: Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images)

Swaziland King Mswati III poses with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy prior to the fourth EU-Africa summit in April. (Photo credit: Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images)

This blog posting is part of a series Amnesty USA is publishing to coincide with the U.S.-Africa Summitoccurring August 4-6, 2014. We are utilizing the series to highlight human rights concerns on the continent we feel critically need to be addressed during the summit discussions.

Contributed by Jamie Skaluba, Amnesty International USA Country Specialist for Swaziland, Malawi and Lesotho

As King Mswati III and his delegation board their royal airplane to Washington, D.C. to lend a Swazi voice to the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, two men remain imprisoned in Swaziland for merely exercising their human right to use their voices.

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How the U.S. and Benin Can Help Bring Justice to the Central African Republic

President Barack Obama issued an executive order imposing sanctions against former President Djotodia on May 13, 2014.  (Photo credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama issued an executive order imposing sanctions against former President Djotodia on May 13, 2014 (Photo credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images).

This blog posting is part of a series Amnesty USA is publishing to coincide with the U.S.-Africa Summit occurring August 4-6th, 2014. We are utilizing the series to highlight human rights concerns on the continent we feel critically need to be addressed during the summit discussions.

Contributed by Natalia Taylor Bowdoin, Amnesty International USA Country Specialist on the Central African Republic

It is critical leaders in the U.S. and the West African nation of Benin address international justice issues at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Former Central African Republic (CAR) President, Michel Djotodia, currently living in exile in Benin, must be investigated for the crimes under international law committed under his command and prosecuted if there is sufficient evidence to bring a case against him.

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