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Fostering Human Rights in Africa

Apr 11, 2013, 10:13 AM

The 53rd Ordinary Session of African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights is underway in Banjul, the seat of the continental human rights organ of the African Union.

This comes at a time when many parts of the continent are experiencing human rights abuses in various forms of human rights ramifications.

Rights violations, such as arbitrary arrest, torture, unlawful detention, rape, unfair judiciary systems, among others, are still rampant in this part of the world.

Human rights defenders and those who advocate it have become targets for bad governments on the African continent.

If we are to go by reports, Africa is one region where sacrifice of human rights on the altar of political expediency is the norm.

There is an absolute need to have respect for human rights, thus simply guarantee people’s opportunity to enjoy inalienable rights, such as the right to live a dignified life, free from fear; a life which affords him or her freedom to pursue personal development.

Human rights, therefore, encompass not only the right to personal safety and security, but also giving due regard to health, education, gender equality and child rights, etc.

While every day concerns, such as issues of access to safe-drinking water, basic health care, clean air, access to means of transport and communication, cannot be separated from human rights, many a problem that Africans are facing today on all fronts underscore the need for the public to expand their perception of what constitutes their rights, and exert themselves towards obtaining respect for these rights.

One can argue that for human rights to become truly embedded in a country’s society and culture, the change has to start with checks on the government in power.

Hence, the first test of a country’s human rights record is to be gauged from government’s treatment of its own people, we call on the participants attending this year’s session to come up with concrete recommendations for African governments to respect the rights of their citizens.