(JollofNews) – Members of Africa’s None-Governmental Organisations, civil society
groups and government officials gather on Wednesday in Banjul to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the African Commission on Humain and Peoples’Rights (ACHPR).
The celebrations are taking place in a context of a new political dispensation as the tiny West African nation is recovering from 22-year dictatorship by the Jammeh regime.
Gambia’s president Adama Barrow commended international and regional human rights organisations for spearheading the campaign to restore democracy in The Gambia.
“They have tiressly worked over the years to
ensure that the unfortunate situation of our people remain on the global and political agenda,” he said while addressing hundreds of delegates coming from various parts of Africa.
The continent’s human rights body has been championing the promotion and protection of human rights despite major challenges posed by numerous abuses committed on daily basis by member States. In three
decades of existence, ACHPR was able to put human rights at the centre stage of development agenda.
“The commitment to achieve human rights is steadily gaining ground throughout Africa,” he said.
The Gambian leader committed himself to ratify the convention against torture, and gave assurance that his government will establish a national human rights commission, which has been deliberately delayed by the former regime.
ACHPR outgoing chairperson Pansy Tlakula, who led the commission for 12 years, said they never met ex-president Yahya Jammeh during their tenure.
“In the 12 years I have been the Chair of the commission, this is the first time the Gambia is represented a the highest level,” she disclosed provoking waves of applause.
A part from President Barrow, Vice-President Fatoumata Tambajang and National Assembly Speaker Mariama Jack Denton graced the occasion with their presence.
Commissioner Tlakula, who was instrumental in promoting Freedom of expression in Africa, said their presence signifies their commitment to human rights.
Since the inaugural session that took place in Banjul in June 1989, she stated that the commission held more than forty-five sessions on Gambian soil.
Various human rights instruments were endorsed by a growing number of African States under her tenure.
Despite all these inspiring achievements, Pansy Tlakula cited the rise of terrorism, arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders, armed conflicts and the war in South Sudan as major challenges the continent is confronted with. She tasked newly appointed commissioners to address emerging issues that have to do with the independence of the judiciary and cyber security and data protection.
European Union (EU) Special Representative for human rights Stavros Lambrinidis said human rights is not a luxury, and not a footnote in policy. “It is a hardcore policy,” he stated.
European Union’s Lambrinidis said the concept of human rights is not from the West or from any other regions in the world. He then added that it is an universal concept that we all share.
The celebrations coincide with ACHPR 61st Ordinary Sesssion, which is being held in Banjul from Nov. 1-15 2017