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Mar 16, 2009, 6:45 AM
More than 150 human rights defenders and experts from Africa and beyond are currently meeting in
The session, currently under way at the Sheraton Hotel in Brufut, aims, among others, to review the current situation of human rights in
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Hon. Commissioner Reine Alapini Gansou, Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights expressed worries about electoral and post electoral situations, and the level of countries that are in conflict. These armed conflicts, he added, are an obstacle to the development of the continent.
Commissioner Gansou stated that the fight for women's rights is a secular one. "It reached its peak in the 18th century in the Western world, but today in
H.E. Mrs Julia Dolly Joiner, Commissioner Political Affairs at the African Union Commission, stated that "it is the exercise of our human rights' obligations that we are able to appreciate the most valuable role that the African commission plays and the significant responsibilities accorded to each of its commissioners".
"In pursuance of the common good, we learn that we may not always succeed in stopping those consumed with hatred or prejudice, and that we cannot stem all abuses," she emphasised.
According to her, people do and ought to know that they should and must always remain steadfast in their obligations to alleviate suffering, and prevent others from occurring. "Even as we reflect on all of human rights gains made and changes effected in our continent and across the world, there are still challenges to be confronted and hearts need to be opened," Joiner asserted.
She noted that there are still fellow Africans, perhaps neighbours, friends, and even loved ones who act with impunity and hold on to attitudes that serve to deny individuals and communities the rights that may take for granted.
"As we pursue actions in response to the increased demands for a new order of rights, we cannot and should not lose sight of the basic human rights enshrined in the African Charter," Joiner added.
Joiner is of the view that the issue of pursuing basic human rights for all, as vigorously as people respond to a new order of rights, is not simple, as it extends to matters of choice on how resources are used and priories established.
Med S.K. Kaggawa, who spoke on behalf of the Network of African Human Rights Institutions and is the Chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission, noted that in spite of the challenges they face, they had established a credible regional human rights mechanism.
"The African Commission’s sessions usually provide us as national human rights institutions with an opportunity to exchange information on various human rights challenges, and a platform to debate on pertinent human rights abuses concerning the continent," Kaggawa stated.
The session, he added, "comes at a time when our continent is still riddled with poverty, wars, conflicts and human rights violations of all kinds, and the citizens are increasely aware of their rights, and demand for their rights and accountability from their governments".
"In spite of the progress made by the African leaders to promote and protect human rights in the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and other regional human rights instruments, including the Constitutive Act of the African Union, human rights violations still persist," he noted.
The session runs from the 10th 24th November.