The Executive Director of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies Madam Hannah Forster has stressed for the need for African States to ratify and accelerate the entry into force the African Charter on Democracy, Election and Governance.
This, according to her, is because the lack of “Independence” of the electoral system has made elections a growing source of conflict in Africa.
Madam Forster was speaking on behalf of the Non-Governmental Organisation Steering Committee, at the opening of the 49th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) in Banjul, on April 28, 2011.
She said the participants of the NGOs Forum, an advocacy event preceding the ACHPR Session, have committed themselves to actively support the effort of the Pan-African Parliament and other African Union organs, and call for the speedy ratification and implementation of the Charter on Democracy, Good Governance and Elections in Africa.
However, she said the Forum acknowledge that despite the persistence as a result of the human rights and democracy situation on the continent leading to violence, insecurity and conflict, real and positive developments have been registered in a good number of African countries.
“Some of these developments reported during the Forum were the conscious harmonisation of domestic law to take into consideration the human rights of person with disabilities as well as human rights of women,” she said.
She added that some countries have even taken steps to include persons with disabilities in the electoral process while noting that six African countries have adopted legislations criminalizing torture in their jurisdiction and ten have ratified the African Charter on Democracy, Election and Governance.
She reiterated that it is not the intention of the Forum to name and shame governments, but to call to action in order to address potentially deteriorating observance of human rights, rule of law and democracy on the continent.
“We therefore request the African Commission to express solidarity with all human rights defenders, especially women human rights defenders, journalists, Lesbians, Gays, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTIs) and other marginal groups living under extreme persecution and to urge states to abolish repressive laws and to ensure a favorable environment for the protection of all groups in Africa,” she said.
She said human dignity has been observed by some states by substituting life imprisonment for the death penalty, however, she reiterated that states need to condemn the death penalty and to commit themselves to its abolition.
She said the Forum reemphasized the necessity of popularizing the various documents emanating particularly from the African Union and the African Commission to ensure that the message contained therein reaches the African population.
To this end, she said the Forum recommitted themselves to achieving the goal of human rights education.