Saturday, November 13, 2010

Commissioner Gansou: Human Rights Violations Emanate from Bad Governance

Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) “The violations, about which the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) is called upon, emanate most often from the contexts of bad governance,
from systematic denials of democratic change and the refusal to recognize the fundamental rights of human being as well as the unacceptable reversal of constitutional order, with no regard for the rights of the population”, Commissioner Alapine-Gansou said.

The Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, Commissioner Renine Alapine-Gansou, said the ACHPR has from November 2009 to date, been called upon to examine and re-examine the human rights situation on the continent.

“Whereas Africa has considerable assets which can contribute to its economic development and without a doubt make up for lost time in its development, several human rights violations are perpetrated with
impunity in the States Parties to the charter and this in those where there are governance problems and
where there is no hope of peace,” she observed, adding the same is true for those countries where relative peace prevails.

In her inaugural address at the opening of the 47th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, she urged that the Commission needs to deploy greater efforts in the combat against torture, death penalty, the rights of human defenders associations, and the rights of journalists.

She added that the Commission will also convince the stake holders to accept the rights to different and in particular to that of non-discrimination, noting that it needs to commit the stakeholders to the
scrupulous respect for the provisions of the Charter.

She asked, how can democracy contribute to the advancement of human rights in an African sickened by its conflict and weighed down by it historical past, in an African which today is still subject to poverty and to under-development.

According to her, democracy is not as a battle, but rather as the outcome of this batter, need to work hard in helping our States to achieved genuine democracy within which the minorities deserve consideration and praise in like manner as the majority, if need be.

“There is evident correlation between democracy, good governance and human rights, a necessary link which should give life to human rights in normative contexts which take in to account the general interest through a regular checking of the high performing, responsible and participative Republican Institutions, founded on a
basis which guarantees multiparty democracy, the Rule of Law, and a system which guarantees the effective
promotion and protection of human rights, of individual and collective liberties,” Commissioner Alapine-Gansou noted.

Speaking in French, Commissioner Alapine-Gansou also said that improvement in governance and to the role of civil society which is nascent or already more or less well established in Africa, adding that our countries can count the growth rates indicative of the respect for human rights knowing that development depends on good governance.

She called for the need to assist the States Parties in genuinely giving effect to their own responsibilities and commitments noting that how can it be otherwise when we know that the rich history of the African continent
has taught us that certain populations of our forests and our savannas have succeeded as best they can, in becoming more democratic, and in transforming their environment into societies of peace, justice, solidarity and tolerance.

“One cannot speak of respect for or promotion of human rights in a context of bad governance, in a context of electoral violence or of truncated elections covered with serious and massive human rights violations. One cannot speak of respect for human rights in a context of the villainous exploitation of their wealth to the detriment of the peaceful population,” she stated.

Commissioner Alapine-Gansou pointed out that there can be good governance where arbitrary arrest, torture in custody, problems of gender based discrimination or the populations’ HIV status are order of the day, or where the most basic of fundamental freedoms are muzzled and are replaced by liberticidal or restrictive rights, where journalists disappear for having accomplished their mission, where women are excluded from the decision making or peace processes.

The Executive Director of the African Centre on Democracy and Human Rights Studies Hannah Foster urges state parties to respect their international, regional and national commitments.

Foster, speaking on behalf of NGOs also urged the African Commission to investigate all situations with a view to propose and implement concrete steps to ensure the resolution of prevailing conflicts.

“Although the situation of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) on the Continent continues to be precarious, we are heartened by steps taken by the African Commission to address this challenge,” Foster said.

However, the Forum urges the African Commission to consider preparing resolutions on Cameroon, DRC and Rwanda for the prevailing circumstances relating to HRDs and to urge states to implement the UN
Resolution on HRDs.

Similarly, she reiterates the fact that increasing numbers of African migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons are forced to leave their homes, leading to total disruption of their livelihoods as a result of insecurity and conflict.

The Commissioner for Political Affairs African Commission Mrs. Julia Dolly Joiner said Member States have through the current strategic plan of the African Union called on them to work towards
establishing an appropriate Architecture on Governance.

“We are also called upon to establish a common platform for articulating African positions and perspectives in shaping and its relationship with the evolving Human Rights Strategy,” she reminded the Commission.

While noting that the promotion and protection of human rights is a collective effort, she challenged that they should not forget that their success hinges on building wider ownership and ensuring that the burden of responsibility and actions is shared across all sectors of society.

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice Edu Gomez reaffirms government’s commitment to protect human rights as The Gambia Government respects and upholds human rights.

“Human rights are enshrined in the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia and it is accorded to all regardless of race, tribe status or religious affiliation,” Mr. Gomez said.

He used the platform to urge right defenders and the African Commission to promote the rights of women and protect them from all forms of violence. He also challenges journalists to be impartial and accurate in human rights issues and to substantiate their reports. Vol:2 Issn:183

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