|Parliament Speaker, Hon Bojang|
The Speaker of the National Assembly in Banjul Hon Abdoulie Bojang has said that Human Rights Defenders are yet to provide effective remedy to all the many alleged human rights violations taking across the African Continent.
This, he said is due to a host of reasons, notable among them, is the need to revisit the Protocol that establishes the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), to enable it move from its current status of advisory, consultative and persuasive mandate, to a more robust, proactive and binding mandate.
Hon Bojang was speaking at the opening of the Forum on the Participation of Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the 49th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR and the 23rd African Human Rights Book Fair in Banjul from April 25-27, 2011. The Forum is organised by the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS) in collaboration with the ACHPR and other human rights organizations.
Hon Bojang argued that most parliamentarians continue to perceive the African Commission as a “reluctant union of State Actors” which now requires the unreserved inclusion and participation of the citizenry, civil society and representatives of the people.
“I would like to urge the African Commission and the African Centre to work together to come up with concrete proposals and recommendations on the way forward,” he charged.
The Forum is one of the main advocacy tools that the Centre uses to promote networking among Human Rights NGOs, for the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa, and Hon Bojang described it as “very important”.
The African Commission is charged with overseeing the implementation and interpretation of the rights and duties enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
However, Hon Bojang said NGOs have become crucial in setting international human rights standards, documenting human rights violations, advocacy and lobbying for the effective implementations of the provisions in human rights instruments signed and ratified by states.
While some countries in Africa register progress in improving democracy and human rights, Hon. Bojang said more countries continue to stray far away from this trend. “Human rights violations continue to take place on a daily basis,” he said.
He also informed rights defenders that the Government of The Gambia last month ratified the Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) (Kampala Convention), having signed it in October 2009.
Speaking earlier, the Chairperson of the ACHPR H.E. Madam Reine Alapini-Gansou stressed that the human rights situation in Africa is serious and times are getting very difficult on the continent.
Madam Alapini-Gansou noted that the difficult times have resulted to calls for democracy and good governance characterized by uprisings led by civilians. “Our youth, women and populations of Africa are calling for justice,” she said.
However, she lamented that most of the time; these calls are not paid heed to, as in the case of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Ivory Coast amongst others. She said the case of Libya has already been forwarded to the African Court of Justice, and that, efforts to document evidences of human rights violations should be supported by human rights defenders.
She also lamented that the time frame of the Forum (96 hours) may not be sufficient for participants to deliberate adequately on the various issues, however, she urge them to step up efforts in their documentation and advocacy initiatives, regardless of the impediments they are faced with.