African Human Rights Commission reflects on future status

Tripoli- Libya (PANA) -- The African Commission for Human and People's Rights (CADHP) Monday decided, at the end of its 29th ordinary session, to initiate reflection on its future status, within the new framework of the African Union.
The commission, which on 7 May ended two weeks of deliberations in Tripoli, Libya noted the ratification of the Constitutive Act of the African Union by 38 OAU member states and its imminent coming into force.
The commission, which met in Libya at the invitation of the Jamahiriya, adopted a number of resolutions to do with "the immediate, total and definite lifting of sanctions imposed on Libya," and "the recent acts of violence in Kabile (Algeria).
" Also featured was the situation of human rights advocates in Tunisia, freedom of expression, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic that was considered "a threat on human rights and mankind.
" The Commission heard presentations from South Africa, Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo (Brazzaville), Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Eritrea and the Libyan Jamahiriya.
Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, the Central African Republic, DR Congo, Ethiopia, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Rwanda, Senegal, Sudan, Togo and Tunisia also made presentations.
According to the final communiqué, several NGOs expressed concern about the situation of human and people's rights in many African countries.
The situation in the Great Lakes region, Guinea, Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Cameroon, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Congo (Brazzaville), Liberia, Sudan, Chad, Togo and Côte d'Ivoire were of great concern to participants.
The NGOs regretted the recurrence of armed conflicts, extra- judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, forced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, denials of justice, inhuman conditions of detention, cases of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
They also protested against hindrances to freedom of expression, harassment of human rights advocates, and the vulnerability of refugee populations and asylum-seekers.
Cases of violence, mostly on women, children, the elderly and handicapped people were also strongly condemned.
The African commission noted with satisfaction the withdrawal of a controversial lawsuit lodged by pharmaceutical companies against South Africa concerning generic drugs against HIV/AIDS.
The commission observed that difficulties encountered by HIV/AIDS patients to gain access to treatment, were a major obstacle to the right to health as provided for in the African Charter for Human and People's Rights.
Special rapporteur on prisons and conditions of detention in Africa Dr Vera Mlangazuwa Chirwa, and special rapporteur on the rights of women in Africa Julienne Ondziel-Gnelenga, also presented their reports.
The commission created a working group on indigenous populations/communities, made up of the Vice-President Kamel Rezag Bara and Commander Andrew R.
Chigovera, assisted by three experts.
A workshop on the situation of human rights of indigenous populations/communities was held 27 April on the sidelines of the commission's 29th session.
The commission granted observer status to several NGOs including "L'oeil d'aujourd'hui," CI-Af Benin, Survival International, Centre for Democracy and Development, Centre Afrika Obota, Association Nigérienne pour la défense des droits de l'home, Que choisir Bénin, CADDHOM absl, Human Rights Institute of South Africa and Académie Africaine de Théorie du Droit.
Within the framework of its promotional activities, the commission reiterated its decision to organise seminars on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, the Right to Education and Development, Freedom of Movement and the Right to Asylum in Africa.
Other themes envisaged include the Right of Handicapped People, Economic, social and Cultural Rights in Africa, the Prevention of Torture, and Refugees and Internally Displaced People.
The commission paid "vibrant tribute" to Prof.
Issac Nguema, who has been a member of the commission since its creation in November 1987, and chairman for three mandates (6 years).
It conferred on him the title of Honorary President in recognition of "his constant advocacy in favour of human rights across the African continent.
" The commission, which shall hold its 30th ordinary session in Banjul, Gambia next 13-27 October, also expressed satisfaction with the rate of participation in the Tripoli session.
Representatives from 29 member States, 6 national human rights institutions and 65 African and International NGOs took part in the session.
This, the final communiqué stressed, was "a clear testimony of the growing interest in the work of the commission for the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa.
" The session was officially opened on 23 April by Dr Mohamed Abdallah El Harrare, Secretary General in charge of Legal Affairs and Human Rights at the Secretariat of the General People's Congress of the Libyan Jamahiriya.
Dr El Harrare seized the occasion to remind participants of the suffering undergone by the Libyan people as a result of the continuing international embargo on the country.
He questioned the impartiality of the International Criminal Tribunal against the backdrop of what he reckoned was the strong influence of representatives of permanent member states of the UN Security Council.
He consequently reminded the commission and participants of their duty to call for "the establishment of a neutral and fair international criminal tribunal, capable of rendering justice equitably.
" Recalling the slave trade, colonisation and racial discrimination, he invited NGOs and the Commission to "defend the thesis of compensation for damage caused to Africa" at the UN international conference on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance billed for Durban, South Africa from 31 August to 7 September.

08 may 2001 14:36:00




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