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NGOs Express Concern on Africa's Human Rights Record

By Bakare Muritala

Daily Observer
October 21, 2002

The Session on the African Commission and Peoples Right has adopted a resolution on Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The forum which brought about 90 NGOs from within and outside the African continent expressed concern on the human rights situation, emanating from gross violations of individual and peoples rights in Africa.

Presenting the resolution to the African Commission at the 32nd Session in Banjul, Hannah Forster, executive director of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, said the increasing and alarming human rights violation in some African countries had led to deaths, displacement of people and continuous gross abuses.

The forum's resolutions noted with grave concern the political violence, harassment of human rights defenders and the media among other violations in Zimbabwe. Ms Forster also said the forum was concerned about the instability in Ivory Coast and Liberia that had led to series of human rights violations.

The commission was urged to send fact finding missions to all the conflict-ridden countries and to create a rapid response mediation task force to intervene in cases where human and peoples rights are imperiled and to expedite the resolutions of all communiques pending before it.

However, the commission's session was able to hear reports from state delegates who all dilated on the need for serious improvement in the human rights situation, including democratic principles that had all led to peace in their various countries. Delegates from Niger, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Eritrea, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Kenya, Senegal, Rwanda, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and others presented state reports.

The chairman of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, Commissioner Kamel Rezag Barra, commended some states for having improved on their human rights record. The chairman also commended the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa and the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies for their efforts in promoting and protecting human rights in Africa.

The session continues deliberations today.

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