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The 50th African Commission Session

Oct 26, 2011, 1:42 PM

Human rights defenders and journalists from Africa and beyond are currently meeting in Banjul to examine the continent’s human rights situation, as part of their efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights.

Hosted by the Gambia government, in collaboration with the secretariat of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights located in Banjul, this 50th ordinary session of the Commission will, among others, examine the human rights situation in the African continent.

This is indeed timely, considering the situation that most African countries are faced with, especially in North Africa.

Every now and then, we hear and read reports of gross human rights violations in countries whose governments are signatories to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Human rights are rights natural to all human beings, irrespective of nationality, sex, ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status.

We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.

Universal human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the form of treaties, customary international law, general principles and other sources of international law.

International human rights law lays down obligations for governments to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain actions in order to promote and protect human rights, and the fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups.

In short, human rights are the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled, often held to include the rights to life and liberty, freedom of thought, freedom of expression, and equality before the law. Human rights ensure a life with dignity and equal opportunities for all.

We want to emphasize that human rights are very important, and should be the same for all people, no matter who they are. People deserve to be accepted for what they are.

Everyone has his or her rights, which are the same as ours, and they should be respected. In fact, human rights should be enjoyed by everyone in the world.

According to the officials at the forum, there is widespread violation of human rights in many parts of the African continent and that, as far as we are concerned, must stop now.

Participants at the event believe that there are scores of human rights abuses, and injustices perpetrated with impunity in many African countries.

Therefore, as a continent, we must do something about this bad image of our continent. There is absolute necessity to observe human rights, since they are God-given rights.

“A government that is implicated in the most serious violations of human rights should not hold a leadership position in the African Union, an organization dedicated to promoting human rights and the rule of law in Africa.”

Maureen Byrnes

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