(By Mohammed Legally-Cole
Monday November 28, 2005
The Ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) commenced seatings at the KairabaBeach Hotel in Banjul, The Gambia from 21 November to 5 December 2005. It was a continuous proceeding from a two-day Human Rights NGO’s Forum, which was also held from the 19 to 20, November 2005 which was organized by the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS) in the same venue.
The session started with a recorded version of the African Union (AU) Anthem. The Secretary General of the African Commission, Mr. Germaine Baricacko gave a broad overview of the 37th session of the Commission, which took place in Banjul, The Gambia on April 2005. After which Mr. Baricacko who have served the Commission as Secretary General of the Commission for 12 years informed the delegates that though it is not an easy task for him during his tenure of serving Africa as the Secretary General in the Commission on Human and People’s Rights issues, he would like to informed the delegates that his term of office has ended, and will not continue the seating. He further introduced the new Secretary general Mrs. Agwa Coleman as his successor.
In her remarks, Mrs. Salamata Sawadogo, Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), bids farewell to the former Secretary General and wish him good luck in his new appointment to Sudan. She gave a vast overview of the ACHPR’s successes in the promotion and protection of human and People’s Rights in Africa. She also extend the Commissions gratitude to her partners and other new partners
In her part, Mrs. Hannah Forster, Executive Director of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, representing all National Human Rights Institution in Africa extended her appreciation to the Government of The Gambia for their hospitality in hosting this 38th Ordinary session.
She gave a detailed overview of Human Rights situations in Africa in which she sighted the appalling situation of continuous killing, maiming, torture, conflict throughout Africa, the violation of the macorsis accord by President Gbargbo of Cote D’Ivoire, unrest in Ethiopia, suppression of the press in The Gambia and Zambia which is a situation to be watch closely during the commission’s session. She extended the African Human Rights community’s appreciation of the Commission’s established the Nelson Mandela Human Rights Award.
She also call on the Commission to give more protection to the Internal Displace Persons (IDP) and Refugees, the Indigenous people, press, Human Rights Defenders in Africa. She also appealed to States who have not signed and ratified the African Charter on the African Court to do so. She congratulate those states that have signed and ratified this instrument and to ensure that these States domesticate the instrument. She ended he speech by congratulate the African states for the ratification of the African Charter on Women’s Rights which will be coming into force on Friday 25, 2005.
The Human Rights Minister of Burundi represented the African Union while Attorney General and Secretary of State for Justice of the Republic of The Gambia declared the session opened.
The Session ended with the swearing in of four new members into the African Commission, theses are high profiled people in the field of Human Rights in Africa. They are: Madam Rene Alapini-gansou of Benin, Mr. Musa Ngary Bittaye of The Gambia, Mr. Mumba Malila of Zambia and Adv. Ms Faith Pansy Tlakula of South Africa. They swear to carry out their duties faithfully without impartiality.
The Commission ended the public session and proceeded to the private session for the Election of the Bureau of the African Commission, Adoption of the Agenda and Organisation of work, all held in the private session.
The public session later started in the afternoon with the following programmes: Cooperation and Relationship with National Human Rights Institutions and NGO’s, the Cooperation between the African Commission on Human People’s Rights and NGO’s.
The latter is the representations of the Human Rights Situation in Africa, Statement by State Delegates and Guests, Statement by Inter-Governmental Organisation, Statement by National Human Rights Institutions and Statement by NGO’s.