Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hannah Foster bemoans Africa’s enormous human rights challenges

Hannah Foster, ACDHRS
The Executive Director of the African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, ACDHRS, Mrs. Hannah Foster described the human rights situation in Africa as precarious. 

She said the recent coup in Mali and the continuing unrest perpetrated by the Tuareg rebels, the unrest inflicted by the Boko Haram sect in Nigeria, and the continuing repression of peaceful protests in Tunisia demonstrates a lack of respect for human rights.

Non-governmentalorganisations (NGO) from within and outside Africa converged in Banjul, The Gambia from April 14-16, 2012 to discuss the precarious human rights situation in the continent.

While remembering victims of human rights violations in Africa, Mrs. Foster implored on the Governments to practice what they preach in order to consolidate the gains registered against impunity. 

“The challenges are enormous,” she said, while noting that victims of human rights violations in Africa are faced with killings, torture, rape, arrests, detentions, enforced displacements etc. 

Speaking on behalf of the Chairperson of the ACHPR, H.E. Madam Catherine Dupe Atoki, the African Commission’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Madam Soyata Maiga reaffirm that NGOs have been the conscience of the people based on the role they play in society.  

She notes that over 420 NGOs have been granted observer status and their cooperation with the Commission will grow from strength to strength. However, she warns that NGOs should remain committed to serving the people.

According to her, the African continent is more threatened than any other continent due to its “vulnerability to calamity.” 

Commissioner Maiga also commends the existence and nature of the NGOs Forum, which provides the much needed space for interactive discussions on the state of human rights violations in Africa.

The NGOs Forum, which is preceding the 51st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, ACHPR, is meant to provide a discussion platform to democracy and human rights NGOs in Africa; to promote inter-regional networking for the implementation of decisions of the Forum as contained in the ACHPR Communiqué; and foster closer co-operation among NGOs, and with the African Commission.

On the sidelines of the Forum is the 25th African Human Rights Book Fair, meant to enable NGOs network and renew the exchange of materials and information, and publicize their activities.

According to the organisers, the ACDHRS, the Forum deliberate generally on the human rights situation in Africa. It will bring to the fore specific human rights situations to attract the attention of the African Commission, the international community and Governments.

These include presentations and discussions on women and property rights and intersection with HIV/AIDS; Drafting guidelines on state obligations relating to women’s reproductive health and HIV; Freedom of expression and access to information in Africa; Extractive industries and human rights violations in Africa; and a variety of special interest groups’ discussions.

The participants ended the Forum on April 16, 2012 with Draft Resolutions and Recommendations adopt on the spot.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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