Mar 25, 2014, 9:54 AM
The session is organised with the view to affording the opportunity for human rights organizations in various countries within the African Union to report on the human rights situation in their individual countries as well as share common ideas for progress.
The session, which formally commenced yesterday, will wrap up on 20 April 2016.
Speaking at the opening of the session, Hannah Forster, Executive Director of African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies and Chairperson of the NGO Forum Steering Committee, said the NGO Forum’s meeting would review and formulate strategies and recommendations on the following three themes: developments on the situation of Human Rights and Democracy in Africa; review of Specific Human Rights issues relevant to the work of the African Commission and Networking for Human Rights in Africa.
She said the report of the forum together with the adopted resolutions and recommendations will be forwarded for consideration as their contribution to the deliberations at the 58th Ordinary Session.
The African Commission is urged to consider convening an open panel and interactive session on conflicts and human rights in Africa to open space for constructive wider consultation and discussion on strategies and make recommendations aimed at collectively responding to conflicts in Africa.
The Commission should also use its powers under Article 58 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to draw the attention of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government to the cases of conflicts and human rights abuse in Africa.
The importance of fostering the involvement of youth in the development and maintenance of democracy and nation building through inclusive and participation will also be discussed at the two-week forum.
“We are all aware that the death toll of illegal migrants has reached dimensions beyond imagination, as the Mediterranean Sea has become an open grave preferable to African youths rather than to stay at home in Africa,” Mrs Forster noted.
She said they would like to reiterate their appeal to human rights promoters, particularly those NGOs with Observer Status, to continue to work in collaboration with the African Commission to complement efforts at promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, rule of law and good governance in Africa.
The forum has continued to appeal to states which have not ratified pertinent treaties, to speedily do so in order to enable their implementation, she appealed.
The ratification of many regional and international instruments by many states was commended. However, the usual challenge of harmonization and implementation of these treaties at the national level still remains, she said.
Mrs Forster also said the 32th African Human Rights Book Fair, organised and facilitated by the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies in collaboration with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, was held at the Paradise Suite Hotel from 3 to 5 April 2016.
Over 160 representatives from 27 African countries participated as well as participants from Belgium, Denmark, France, Geneva, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, she added.
She expressed the Commission’s gratitude to the Government and people of The Gambia for the warm hospitality accorded them in facilitating the activities of the 58th Ordinary Session.
Also speaking on the occasion, Gilbert Sebihogo of The Network of National Human Rights Institutions said the year 2016 is unique in many ways on the human rights front. He commended the commission’s efforts at ensuring the setting aside of “this auspicious year for the continent to take stock of and celebrate the achievements made towards the realization of human rights”.
He said that declaring this year the African year of Human Rights has also given the continent an opportunity to showcase and celebrate the significant milestones it has registered towards the realization of human rights.
“This year, Africans will have a chance to share their narrative and experiences with regard to the progress made in human rights in the continent, using their local knowledge and taking into consideration the contextual background,” he said.
“It would not only serves as an opportunity for awareness raising about the human rights situation in Africa, but it is also a moment to inspire future generations to appreciate the achievements made and contribute in further strengthening the human rights based approaches in development programming and service delivery.”
He added: “I urge the commission to consider working together with different players at the regional, national and community level in order to have optimal results that have direct implications on the lives of African citizens in different parts of the continent. This will be achieved only without discrimination based on any ground and by fulfilling the commitment to: ‘Leave no one behind’.”