December 10, 2017 marks the commemoration of Human Rights Day 2017, during which activities marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) will be launched with the slogan “Stand Up 4 Human Rights”.

The inception of the UDHR and other human rights treaties has contributed immensely to ensuring and sustaining the rights, dignity and welfare of people all over the world.

However, human rights violations, as well as threats to the enjoyment of such rights, remain very much alive, with new dimensions of violations emerging every day.

As an actor in the African human rights system, IHRDA remains concerned about trends that increasingly undermine the dignity and welfare of people on the continent.

While we continue to celebrate thirty years of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, as the mother mechanism in the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa, we regret that, in recent times, there have been moves by some African States to further shrink the civic space, infringe on the work of human rights defenders and suppress freedom of expression.

Examples include: the shutting down of CSOs in Kenya following the August 2017 Presidential Election; the adoption/consideration of regulations that do not favour efficient functioning of NGOs, like in Uganda and Nigeria; the arbitrary arrest and detention of human rights defenders, like the October 2017 incident in Tanzania, not leaving out interferences with internet connection in countries like Cameroon, Ethiopia and Burundi.

Moreover, we continue to regret the growing prevalence of unfriendly socio-economic and political circumstances in many African countries, which only help to fuel the displacement of people, resulting in more refugees and migrants on/from the continent. We continue to decry acts of human trafficking and sale of human beings into slavery, as recently disclosed in Libya. While we commend measures already taken to curb this phenomenon, we urge duty-bearers to do more.

These are only a few of the numerous human rights concerns we are faced with in Africa, and that demand more urgent and strategic interventions.

We however want to commend States that have made outstanding progress in the promotion and protection of rights and freedoms on the continent during this year, especially The Gambia. We also commend Zimbabwe for the peaceful transition in power, and hope that the new government will chart a way forward that meets the democratic aspirations of the people.

IHRDA reaffirms its commitment to work with key actors and stakeholders in the African human rights system, including regional and sub-regional bodies, State and non-State actors, as well as victims of violations, towards our common aspiration for a continent where human rights and access to justice are guaranteed to all.