ARUSHA, Tanzania, Nov 22 – African countries have been urged to improve the state of human rights to be able to meet international norms and standards.
The call was made at a symposium celebrating the 10th anniversary of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights (AfCHPR) which is based in Arusha, Tanzania.
Delegates attending the symposium noted that even though there was remarkable improvement in the state of human rights in the continent; much more remain to be done to improve the situation.
“You will agree with me that the human rights conditions in many African Member States do not meet the continental and international norms and standards,” Commissioner for Political Affairs at the African Union Commission Dr Aisha Abdullahi who was represented by the commission’s Political Affairs Director Dr Khabele Matlosa said.
Dr Abdullahi was particularly concerned at the violence meted on women in the continent through wide-ranging abuses which amount to the violation of their rights.
“Human rights are abused in many of our countries daily,” she told the symposium, “one of the hardest hit social groups is women.”
Justice Sylvain Ore who heads the continental court assured the delegates that the court was solely established with the aim of protecting people’s human rights, and will continue to do.
“The African Court is neither a court for the states nor a court of the judges, but rather a court for all African citizens desirous to see an Africa which adopts zero tolerance to human rights violations,” the Court’s President said, and lauded Non-Governmental Organisations which have been at the forefront of the court’s “vibrant jurisdiction on issues as significant as the right to political participation, freedom of expression and fair trial.”
Tanzania’s Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Dr Harrison Mwakyembe said the establishment of the court has enabled the development of a human rights jurisprudence body in the continent.
“It can also be noted that sessions held at the African Court help attorneys and lawyers in horning their litigation skills and provide them with practical experience on how matters are handled at international legal institutions,” he said.
The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights is a continental court established by African countries to ensure the protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa. It complements and reinforces the functions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The court was established by virtue of Article 1 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, (the Protocol) which was adopted by Member States of the then Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in June 1998. The Protocol came into force on 25 January 2004.