Thursday, February 25, 2010

AU Commission’s Concerns Over Human Rights

NEWS BANJUL, THE GAMBIA(MB)-The plight of human rights defenders and journalists in many countries, particularly in The Gambia cannot be swept under the carpet.
Moreover, The Gambia which has hosted the African Commission’s sessions for the past two decades should have been a heaven of peace for all human rights activities. These remarks were made by the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, Reine Alapini Gansou, at the recently concluded 46 Ordinary Session of the Commission, which ended on 25th November 2009, at the Sheraton Resort and Spa, in Brufut.
Madam Gamsou who delivered the closing remarks, said the situation of women and that of the girl child, and more specifically the problem of maternal and reproductive health continues to constitute a matter of concern. In this regards, she went on, the Commission recommended the holding of the African Conference, Beijing +15, here in The Gambia to support African women in their quest for justice and equity by contributing to the recommendations which had been formulated on this occasion.
“With the framework of its mission of protection, cases of human rights violations and on which it took decisions will be implemented by the states concerned,” she noted.
According to her, they will contribute to the respect for human rights as stipulated in the African Charter.
She said what actually came to mind during the closing session, which therefore appears essential to her is the enormity of the tasks ahead of them.
“Their commission as a whole is conscious of its mission to safeguard human rights and fundamental freedom, and nothing should justify its absence when major decisions and actions are required to deal with critical situations of human rights violations within its mandate,” she stated.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, she disclosed has already taken action in conformity with the spirit and content of its mandate in relation to human rights situation in Guinea, The Gambia and in Niger.
“Any initiative within this context should adequately take into account what it has achieved and what it intends to do in the future,” she added. She cited that very alarming situations had been of concern to them.
“The desire for the change of the normal constitutional order as is the case in Niger and the systematic refusal to take into consideration the legitimate aspirations of the sovereign people, the serious and large-scale human rights violations in the face of all these tendencies like the case in Guinea, the persistence of armed conflicts with the resulting trail of refugees and internally-displaced in Sudan and Somalia, sexual abuse, raping on a large-scale in North and South Kivi on the DRC, or even intolerance or denial of the rights to dissents even in the countries where there is relative peace, where some of the issues which were discussed positively and at length during their session results in all kinds of suffering for the most vulnerable sections of the population,” she stated.
In her closing speech, on behalf of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Marie Saine-Firdaus, the Senior State Counsel, Mrs. Isatou Grahamd said that “in order for Africans to stand up to Asia, and be taken as a serious world economic contender we should stop prioritising civil and political rights over economic, social and cultural rights.
“The clear nexus between economic, social and cultural rights and 2020, underscores the human rights based approach to development, which has enabled Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and China to upgrade their economic status and transcend from that of Third World countries to a highly developed country. These gigantic economic transitions had enabled these countries in fulfilling all the requirements and conditions of Vision 2020,” she added.
According to her, the African Charter is their manifesto for a better developed Africa, which she said calls for a shared commitment to improve human rights condition in Africa.
She noted that despite their regional variations and challenges encountered in the promotion of human rights, it is imperative for them to assess their shortcomings and demonstrate their intention to make human rights an integration process in their region.
“Therefore the watch words should be development, democracy and respect for human rights,” she said, noting that with such determination the outcome of the session would not only be on paper but be part of a legal framework which would be incorporated by their various governments as part of their policies.

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