By MUHAMMED S. BAH
The Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Commissioner Pansy Tlakula, has called on African leaders to improve the Human rights situation across the continent.
Commissioner Tlakula was speaking at the opening of the 59th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) on Friday, 21 October, 2016 at Paradise Suites Hotel.
This year’s session witnessed the celebration of Africa Year of Human Rights with special focus on the Rights of Women. The Theme is Women’s Rights, our collective responsibility.
She further noted that the African Continent is facing various human right violations, such as arbitrary arrests, detentions without trial, impunity, torture, access to information, amongst many other human rights violations.
Commissioner Tlakula however commended the Nigerian government for the retrieval of the 21 Chibok Girls who were abducted by the Boko Haram Group.
“Despite some of the achievements on the issues of Human rights in the African continent, there are still challenges to address,” she remarked.
She said 2016 marks the 35th anniversary of the adoption of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and 30 years of its coming into effect, the 26th anniversary of the protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women, the establishment of an African Court on human and peoples’ rights and the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the African Youth Charter.
The African Commission Chair said these African Union texts have made significant contributions to the promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights on the continent.
She further stated that The Commission is urging States Parties to the African Charter to:
- Ratify the Protocol on the Amendments to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights;
- Comply with their obligations to investigate serious human rights violations, and hold perpetrators accountable in accordance with applicable regional and international human rights standards;
iii. Take the necessary legislative and other measures to put an end to impunity and ensure that all the perpetrators of serious human rights violations are prosecuted;
- Adopt the necessary laws, policies and mechanisms to guarantee the rights to justice, truth and reparation for victims of serious human rights violations and international crimes.
In her opening statement, Madame Fatima Singhateh, Minister of Justice highlighted some of the achievements registered by Government in the past years especially in the area of Women’s Rights protection, by passing several laws.
She cited the recent banning of FGM and early Child Marriage.
She also assured them of the Gambia government’s commitment to the protection of the rights of women and children.
In her Keynote Address on Behalf of the African Union, Commission Dr Aisha L. Abdullahi, Commissioner for Political Affairs, AU, during her long speech urged the ACHPR and the AU to consider putting young people high on the Agenda.
“I believe that 2017, should be Year of the Youth who are the cream of our nations, we should celebrate them and invest in them to achieve a demographic dividend for a better Africa” She remarked.
Other speakers were Mr. Joseph Ndayisenga, Second Vice-Chairperson of the Committee, Mrs, Hannah Forster Chairperson of Steering Committee amongst others.
The meeting, which is expected to end on 4 November, 2016, attracted both local and international participants from civil society and human rights groups, amongst others
This occasion was graced by Commissioners from the African Union Commission, The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Foreign Ministers from Member States, Dignitaries from Various Organs, of the AU, The African Court, state delegates, National Human Right Institutions and Non-Governmental organisations and the media.