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ECOWAS Heads Tasked Over Guinea, Others

Oct 16, 2009, 3:47 AM | Article By: Soury Camara

The Network of National Human Rights Institutions of ECOWAS member states (ECOWAS-NNHRI) has taken ECOWAS Heads of State to task after they raised strategic suggestions for tackling the challenges facing the national right institutions within ECOWAS member states, notably Guinea Conakry.

In a communiqué issued after a three-day assessment of challenges and achievements of the Network in Banjul, the meeting noted with concern the violation of human rights in Guinea.

The network tasked ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Governments to prevail the military junta in Guinea, to immediately organise an election in which serving members of the CNDD must not participate.

This, the communiqué noted, would usher in a credible civilian and democratic government in Guinea.

The communiqué further urged the up-coming summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Governments to facilitate the imposition of sanctions, targeted at the military junta.

In a similar development, the communiqué also noted with concerns, the human rights situation in Niger, thus recommending an immediate sanctions from ECOWAS until democratic structures and the rule of law are restored in the country.

It further calls for the release of journalists and other political prisoners who are being held by the government of Niger.

"The Gambia Government should ensure protection of media practitioners as result of the practice of their profession" the communiqué further stated, calling on them to be more tolerant of human rights activists, and opposition groups in the country.

However, these recommendations follows an exhaustive report of national institutions on the state of human rights in the member states that highlighted the main achievements, including the provision of human rights education to the citizens, facilitation of quicker dispensation of justice.

The report also focus attention on prison congestion, protection of the rights to free speech, especially for journalist and other rights protection, including that of women, youths and children, training security services and civil society on the protection of citizens' rights and partnership with other arms of government for the promotion of constitutional governance.

The communiqué also stated some constraints confronting national institutions, such as inadequate financial resources for the institution to effectively perform it roles. The meeting also reviewed the constitution that was earlier circulated at the Cotonou meeting in February this year.

"A draft of one-year and two-year plan of action were discussed and accepted by the network," the communiqué stated.