Commission stresses need to strengthen human rights

Human rights systems in Africa need to be strengthened, the African Commission on Human and People's Rights last week stressed in a communique that capped its 32nd ordinary session, held on 17-23 October in Banjul, The Gambia.

Addressing the 216 participants, Commission Chairman Kamel Rezag-Bara urged all the actors to ensure the entry into force of the Protocol to the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights and the preparation of the Draft Protocol on Woman's Rights in Africa.

Representatives of national human rights institutions and NGOs expressed concern over the situation of human and peoples' rights prevailing in many African states.

The Commission granted affiliate status to the South African Human Rights Commission and the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria.

It also granted observer status to 12 NGOs from various countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Republic of Congo, Seychelles, South Africa, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

It further considered and adopted a resolution on the Guidelines and Measures for the Prohibition and Prevention of Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment or Treatment in Africa also known as the Robben Island Guidelines.

The Commission also considered and adopted a draft declaration on the principles of the freedom of expression in Africa. It decided to hold its 33rd Ordinary Session in Niamey, Niger, from 5-19 May, 2003 on the invitation of Niger's government.