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NGO Forum calls for respect, promotion of human rights

Apr 18, 2012, 1:52 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

At the close of the three-day forum on the participation of NGOs in the 51st session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, participants renewed calls for state parties to respect their obligation in promoting human rights, as well as cultivate democracy and good governance.

The bi-annual event, held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, was among others aimed at examining the present human rights situation on the continent, availing participants the opportunity to exchange views and explore practical approaches and experiences, with a view to foster collaboration among and between NGOs, as well as with the African Commission in promoting and protecting human rights in Africa.

Addressing participants at the closing ceremony, Hannah Foster, the Executive Director of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies described the forum as a success.

The forum, she said, saw discussions on women and property rights and intersection with HIV/AIDS; drafting guidelines on state obligations relating to women’s health and reproductive rights; women in the electoral process; the situation room; freedom of expression and access to information in Africa.

According to her, participants at the NGO forum will present their resolutions and recommendations to the African Commission for consideration during its 51st ordinary session.

Dr Salad Hammad, human rights expert at the African Union Commission, urged participants to renew their commitment to prevent genocide from happening, and the violation of human rights in the continent.

“We must reiterate our commitment to work together to promote and protect human rights in Africa,” he told participants, noting that the African Union Commission has committed itself to the do so by adopting various instruments, and establishing many mechanisms.

Dr Salad urged the participants to bring forward strong resolutions, and recommendations to the African Commission for action.

Noting that the African Charter on Democracy, Election and Governance was ratified in February this year, Dr Salad added that the situation in Mali, Guinea Bissau and other countries demand the ratification of this document.

“Africa needs this important charter. The situation in Mali and Guinea Bissau and many African countries demand full ratification of this chapter,” he said.

The chairperson of the African Commission, Commissioner Catherine Dupe Atoki described the NGO forum as a beacon of hope.

She said presentations during the forum outlined bad governance, conflicts, tribal wars in many parts of Africa, noting that it is crucially important to redouble our efforts in the fight to bring more awareness to African people.

“The consequence of bad governance and conflict has rendered millions of Africans to live in abject poverty without food, shelter, employment, health care and education,” she added.

Atoki expressed the Commission’s resolve and commitment to work with all NGOs in the protection and promotion of human rights in the continent.

Also speaking at the closing ceremony was the European Union Charge de Affaires in The Gambia, Ms Agnes Guillaud, who said it is sad that government officials, state security forces, and the judiciary are too often perpetrators of the violation of human rights, torture, poor prison and detention conditions, among others.

While urging human rights defenders to increase awareness campaign to the people, she noted that NGOs play a crucial role in holding governments accountable, advocate for democracy as well as promote and protect human rights.

Mabasa Fall, member of the African Centre, and Abdoul Gadiry Daillo, representative of the NGO forum steering committee and board member of Guinean Human Rights Organization, both addressed the forum.