In a statement to the 47th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR in Banjul, The Gambia on Wedenesday, Hannah Foster, the Executive Director of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights in Africa, said:
“The suppression of freedom of expression, opinion, assembly and the press is becoming the norm rather than the exception and therefore continues to be a cause for concern on our continent with the formulation of draconian laws, harassment, intimidation, killings and arbitrary detention.”
The call by the NGOs comes against the backdrop of continued violations of human rights in countries such as Sudan, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Guinea Conakry, among others.
Foster urged the Commission to take note of the resolutions by the NGOs and: “Pay particular attention to the situation in Angola, Burundi, Central Africa …Zimbabwe and that they also…. request the African Commission to express solidarity with all journalists living under extreme persecution and to urge states to abolish repressive laws and to ensure a conducive environment for the protection of journalists in Africa.”
ACHPR Chairperson Reine Alapini-Gansou, in her opening address, stressed the need for true democratic values in Africa underpinned by respect and enjoyment of all human rights.
“Democracy presupposes the right not to be harassed for one’s opinions and that of seeking, receiving and disseminating information and ideas, with no consideration of frontiers, and by whatever means of expression possible,” she said.
The Chairperson noted that human rights violations often emanate from bad governance, systematic denial of democratic change, refusal to recognise fundamental human rights and rampant reversal of constitutional order.
She said greater efforts were therefore required to combat crimes of torture and protect the rights of human rights defenders and journalists. Misa