Jun 16, 2008, 3:46 AM
forum on the participation of NGOs in the 59th Ordinary Session of the African
Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the 33rd African Human Rights Book
Fair started yesterday at the Paradise Suites Hotel.
Speaking at the forum, the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), Commissioner Pansy F. Tlakula, said since its establishment the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was preoccupied with human rights issues, as evidenced by the struggle for the de-colonisation of Africa and the right to self-determination.
She said those agitating and fighting for independence used human rights standards to justify their struggle, as colonialism had no regard for the human rights of the colonised people.
“The Africa Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights elevated human rights as an issue deserving attention by the AU and Members States.”
However, she further stated, it did not properly articulate women’s rights and had since been corrected with the adoption of the Maputo Protocol, and the AU Commission had also prioritised gender equality and integrated it into all its activities, programmes and policies.
In that spirit, she went on, it declared this year as African Year on Human Rights, with particular focus on the rights of women to bring together member states, African states and human rights stakeholders to recognize the achievements made, exiting challenges and commitment to addressing them.
In his remarks at the forum, a Governing Council Member of the ACDHRS, Mabassa Faal, said human rights belong to the citizens and those who violated them should be punished.
Faal added that there are too many challenges along the way, especially in African countries, and corruption and terrorism is the order of the day and, most importantly, climate change issues.
Speaking at the forum also was the chairperson of the Civil Society Organization (CSO), Sidikou Moussa, who said the forum is a platform for civil society and the sharing of good practices.
“This year is to commemorate the 10 years of crisis and conflicts, especially the aftermath of elections, and those who suffer most are women and children, so therefore we want this to come to an end.
“Children suffer from sexual abuse, trafficking and even trained as child soldiers and their rights are violated, especially from people who should have protected them; so we all have to come together to fight against this menace,” he added.
Clement Voule, of the Steering Committee of the NGOs Forum, in his remarks said, this year, the Commission is celebrating women’s rights and seeing how far they have come and the challenges tackled along the way.
“We have all been seeing the recent crisis in Africa, especially in Burundi during their election, where more than 230,000 people were displaced,” he pointed out.