By Omar Bah
According to the chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Pansy F. Tlakula, the African Union has made human rights an explicit part of its mandate, as embodied in its constitutive Act.
In a statement read on her behalf by commissioner Jamesina Essie L. King at the opening ceremony of the forum on the participation of NGOs in the 59th Ordinary Session and the 33rd African human rights book fair, the AU human rights commissioner noted that the OAU since establishment was preoccupied with human rights as evidenced by the struggle for the decolonization of Africa.
She said those agitating and fighting for independence used human rights standards to justify their struggle, as colonialism had no regard for the human rights of the colonized people.
“The African charter on human and peoples’ rights elevated human rights as an issue deserving attention by the AU and member states, but it did not properly articulate women’s rights. This has since been corrected with the adaptation of the Maputo protocol.
“The AU has also prioritised gender equality and integrated it to all its activities with the declaration of this year as the African year on human rights with particular focus on the rights of women.
“My distinguish delegates the African culture has been criticised for not respecting the rights of women, mostly because of the harmful practices that negate gender equality. Many campaigns have been launched against these practices such as FGM, forced marriage, gender-based violence and maternal deaths due to lack of access to adequate and affordable health facilities.”
Commenting further the AU human rights commissioner said though African leaders have committed themselves to respect human rights by rectifying international and constitutional human rights instruments, there is still a lot to be done legally to ensure concrete measures are taken to combat all societal discrimination.
While commending the Governments of the Gambia for criminalizing FGM and early marriage and Nigeria for their recent gender and equal opportunity bill, she urged other countries who have not committed themselves to do so.
Mabassa Fall, the governing council member-ACDHRS called on the African head of states to galvanise their efforts and concentrate on issues like climate change, freedom of expression among others issues which threatens human existence, saying effects of climate should be everyone’s business.
Culled from Standard news paper