61st Ordinary Session of African Commission Opens

BY Kebba AF Touray

 The 61st Ordinary Session of the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights, has on Wednesday 1st November 2017, started in Banjul.

The session is aimed at highlighting the performance and challenges of the Commission as well as further cement the respect and protection of fundamental human rights. The 61st ordinary session also coincided with the 30th anniversary of Commission since it came into being in 1978.

Speaking at the historic event, Hanna Foster on behalf of the Non-Governmental Organization said, the day marks the 30 years since the inception of the Commission; that this is a milestone in the history of the Commission and serves as a unique time for all the sectors of the Commission to make superb plans for the successful execution of their sacred duties.

She expressed thanks and gratitude to the government and the people of the Gambia for the warm welcome accorded to them. While thinking the outgoing Commissioners for their dedication to duty over the past years, she welcomes the incoming commissioners and urged them to emulate their predecessors.

Madam Pansey Akula, the outgoing Chairperson of the African Commission, hailed the Government for its constant support to the Commission and urged for continuity. She thanked the Government for the bold step taken to remove the death penalty in the Gambia.

“This is historic as for the first time we have the president in our midst and officially opening the session of the Commission”, she said.

In his official opening statement, the President of The Gambia Adama Barrow, assured the Commission of his Government’s continuous cooperation and collaboration with the Commission. He said the people of the Gambia recognizes  the commitment and support of the African Commission in ensuring that human rights are respected in The Gambia, despite the uncooperative attitude of the former regime.

‘‘The Commission never shied away from carrying out its responsibility even when it seems impossible in the country”, he said.

He revealed that it is vital to note that human rights protection must not be about enacting laws on paper, but that concrete steps must be taken from institutions, policies and programs, for the full realization and enjoyment of human rights.

He called on all the states on the continent to give their full support to the Commission and said he was confident that the session will open the platform for fruitful deliberations to assess and take step of achievements and challenges in the past decade. He extended his appreciation to all those who came from far and near, to come and grace the occasion and urged them to take time and explore the smiling coast of Africa. President Barrow also thanked the outgoing Commissioners for their dedication to duty over the past years, in the protection and promotion of human rights in the country and said he is of the conviction that the incoming Commissioners will continue the momentum.

Other speakers who took the podium all expressed their resolve on the need to further cement the respect and protection of fundamental human rights and justice.