Thursday, April 11, 2013

‘The Gambia will soon have a functional independent human rights commission’

A session of the ACHPR in Gambia, 2009 (Photo credit: Guillaume Colin & Pauline Penot)
The Gambia will soon be part of some African States that have a functional independent Human Rights Commission, the country’s Justice Minister Lamin Jobarteh said on Tuesday.

He hopes this process will be expedited as the government has commenced consultations on the establishment of a national Human Rights Commission with the assistance of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Jobarteh was speaking at the start of the 53rd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) underway in Banjul from April 9-23, 2013.

“The African Commission has over the years strived to promote and protect human rights in Africa. But we are still facing a number of challenges that disrupt our progress towards development,” he noted.

ACHPR Chairperson, Commissioner Catherine Dupe Atoki, said the African Commission will not waiver in its efforts to promote and protect human and peoples’ rights – even in the face of such gross daunting violations of human rights.

She said the African Commission has adopted guidelines that are aimed at facilitating the implementation of state obligations to African Charter.

“In striving to achieved its protective mandate, the Africa Commission has improved the number of communications concluded and is working on further reducing the period within which they are finalized,” she said.

In the last 12 months, the Commission adopted decisions on 19 communications, and Atoki said all stakeholders must work to preserve the respect and protection of human rights in Africa amidst several challenges.
The African Union (AU) is preparing to celebrate its Golden Jubilee of 50 years of existence amid serious and widespread human rights violations, observers said.

40 Human Rights NGOs boycotted the 53rd Ordinary Session of the ACHPR, at the back of what they call “gross disregard for human rights by The Gambia”.

NGOs from Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Zambia and international and regional NGOs like Article19, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and Media Foundation for West Africa said they are “protesting against holding sessions of the African Commission in The Gambia where basics human rights are constantly violated with total impunity”.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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