Saturday, November 5, 2011

Special Coverage: 50th Session of African Commission...

Minister Gomez calls for a courageous, vigilant and outspoken legal fraternity
Hon. Edward Gomez (Pix: ACHPR)
The Gambia Minister of Justice, Mr. Edward Gomez has stressed the need for a courageous, vigilant and outspoken legal fraternity and human rights defenders in many parts of Africa.
This, he said, should involve people who are not afraid to speak out against human rights abuses, who would protect the weak and vulnerable.
Speaking at the opening of the 50th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights(ACHPR) held at a local hotel west of the Gambian capital, Banjul on October 24, 2011, he said the Government and the people of The Gambia have been serving the continent ever since the country led the way in the promotion and protection of human rights.

He said Africa and the world have witnessed the emergence of democracy in the continent in the last decade, as countries took steps in adopting constitutions that nurture democratic governance and multiparty elections.   
These developments, he said, took place during a period of ongoing conflicts on the African continent thus underscoring the willingness of governments to advance the promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa.

“As we mark the 30th Anniversary of the African Charter, we are of the view that stability, democracy, good governance and the rule or law, form the foundation for the promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa,” he stressed, while noting that “there are worrying challenges and events that are currently unfolding on the continent, with large pockets of tension which foster mass violation of human rights.”

He concluded that “any system of government which denies but makes the protection of human rights impossible is clearly inviting a situation in which the use of violence is inevitable”, citing uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East. 

Hon Reine Alapini-Gansou (Pix:ACHPR)
For her part, the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights,
Madam Reine Alapini-Gansou said Africa has been faced with massive human rights violations from 2010 to 2011. A situation, she said is of grave concern, jeopardizing the lives of peaceful civilian populations which held the attention of the international community.

“Sequel to leadership conflicts, politicians have engaged in what some of them have called war, but only the civilian populations have paid the heavy price for it,” Madam Gansou laments.
She noted that the situation in Guinea Conakry which has persisted since 2010 appears to emanate from a culture of total impunity, while the “Libya situation is frightening when we see the humanitarian apathy shown by the pictures on our television sets”.

She also noted that in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), more than five (5) million people have been killed within the context of massive human rights violations, while in Somalia thousands died and many thousands displaced, with Southern Sudan frequently grabbing international headlines for the wrong reasons.

“Thus, one has the right to ask, when will there be peace. The Commission is endeavoring to do so by means of its revised rules of procedure and the combined use of the Charter and of the Protocol establishing the African Court of Justice even whereas it has not yet seen the light at the end of the tunnel so as to give satisfaction to the populations who are hungry for peace and justice,” she said. “With the challenges posed by the massive human rights violations, the Commission need to focus its efforts on prevention and protection as it has been doing, but it most also strengthen collaborative action.”

The Commission also needs to defend its cardinal role by endeavoring to remain at the centre of all decisions, whether political or not, where they relate to the security and the protection of the human person in Africa, she argued. 

In conclusion, she said “we are going to start our deliberations with an agenda which takes due cognizance of the importance of the event, but above all our concerns to satisfy those who expect much from us, namely widows, the orphans, the numerous victims of human rights abuses, the women and men who are crying in the wilderness but whose voices are not heard.”

  • Source: The Voice

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