|Human Rights Defenders at the NGOs Forum April 25-27, 2011 (Photo Credit: M.S. Joof/TNBES)|
Human rights agencies that partake in the April 6-8, 2013 NGOs Forum in Banjul have highlighted some of the positive and negative developments regarding Africa’s human rights record.
The NGOs Forum usually precede the Ordinary Sessions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ACHPR, the 53rd of which is hosted by The Gambia from April 9-23.
A resolution at the end of the forum on Monday noted that significant and positive developments in the human rights and democracy situations in Africa have been made.
It said it is worthy to applaud the improvement in the respect for human rights, good governance and the rule of law in a lot more countries in Africa.
Human rights defenders said the role of African Union remains crucial in strengthening the continental framework to promote and protect human and peoples’ rights in Africa.
They said the AU has spurred the pursuit of human rights which is evidently a shared responsibility. The increased involvement of civil society organizations in the consultative processes are indeed commendable and have enhanced the partnerships in the various processes by the African people.
In spite of these development, the Forum noted with concern that Africa continue to face grave human rights challenges characterized by conflict, insecurity, violence, poverty, disease, underdevelopment, internal political strife, the taking of arms by rebel groups, arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killing, harassment of journalists, human rights defenders, and untold hardship meted out to the majority of citizens especially women and children.
Globalization has brought to the fore the increased threat of terrorism, transnational organized crimes impeding protection of human rights and this phenomenon has not ceased to undermine even the most resilient states, they note.
The resolution said eroding respect for observance of human rights in many African states remains a cause for concern, including the conflict in Mali, sexual crimes in Sudan, the Boka Haram attacks in Nigeria, and the human rights situation in Angola, Eritrea, Guinea, Mali, Kenya, Sudan, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
Hence, the Forum urges the African Union to ensure stronger and closer collaboration between the African Commission, the African Court and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
Most African countries are reluctant to ratify and adopt the declaration which allows NGOs access to the African Court, but the Forum renew calls those African States to work towards the ratification, adoption of the declaration to enhance the jurisprudence and grant the necessary access needed.
They call on the African Commission to urge states to ensure integrity of defenders in their territory and to provide an enabling environment for defenders to carry out their work.
They further calls on the Commission to rigorously revive its work in this area of human rights to curb the growing wave of reprisals.
Written by Modou S. Joof
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