By Femi Peters – The 49th ordinary session of the African Commission on Human& Peoples rights held in the Gambia starting the 28th April – 12may, 2011 commenced by a speech presented by Hon commissioner Reine Alapini-Gansou, Chairperson of the ACHPR.
During the opening speech given by Isatou Awa Graham, representing the Attorney General and Minister of Justice re affirmed the Government of the Gambia’s commitment to the work of the commission and continues to welcome the hosting of the commission in the Gambia. She further said that economic growth will not be sufficient without the necessary conditions to sustain peace, bring the need to expand fundamental rights; reviving sustainable peace building foundations; preventing new conflicts and the promotion of equitable financial adjustment measures.
She further called on a holistic approach to the sub regional and regional dimension of conflicts in ivory Coast, Libya amongst other African countries by broadening the scope of human rights to incorporate the fundamental rights and protection of marginalized groups, therefore bridging of intuition foundations geared towards the expansion of a social justice system guided by democratic principles, accountability and the rule of law which is central to sustainable peace.
Having sighted significant progress in some areas for instance the creation of two continental courts, the African Court on Human and People’s Rights created in 1998 and the African Court of justice in 2002.having no doubts that this courts have the expected impact in addressing and curbing human rights violation on the continent especially in the area of non compliance by states. The promotion and protection of human rights in Africa is the primary responsibility of states because it is only when human rights are guaranteed, promoted and protected, that one could say human security has become a reality, making it evident the need for African leaders to adapt strategies to make the protection of human rights more attainable.
On the part of the Gambian Government, it’s steadfast to the protection of “solidarity rights” such as the right to development and peace has adopted policies and strategies at alleviating poverty. With the support of its development parents the Gambia have made significant progress in areas of infrastructure development, roads, telecommunication, safe water, education, health care, rural electrification, through proportional physical infrastructure representative by geographical location.
In these order the Government of the Gambia has carried out several activities to improve the existing legal framework which include the revision of the entire Law volumes of the Gambia. The Gambia was also the first African Union Member state to sign the protocol on the rights of women in Africa and further passed into law as the Women’s Right Act (2010).This act recognizes that women have a right not to be subjected to violence, injury, abuse and harmful traditional practices. In promoting and upholding religious freedom, the Gambia remains unrivaled at its religious tolerance and the Government respects this right.
As a developing country, the Gambia is ready and willing to learn and adopt best practices available to improve significantly on human rights record and to best protect the human rights of people. She further conclude by saying “as true promoters and protectors of human rights, we should also act responsibly in the way and manner we execute our functions/mandate and not to appear or seen to make misleading and unsubstantiated claims of alleged human rights violations or statements founded on other ulterior motives”.
Also speaking at the opening where Mrs. Foster representing the NGO steering committee, Commissioner Lindiwe Mokate of Network of National Human rights institutions; H.E Mrs. Julia Dolly Joiner, Commissioner, Political Affairs of the African Union commission; Hon Justice A.B Akuffo, the vice president of the African court on human and peoples rights; and Hon Kumba Gaye representing the African union member states.