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SADC NGO's call for adherence to African Charter
October 21, 2011
Representatives of NGO's attending the Forum on the Participation
of NGO's (NGO Forum) at the 50th Ordinary Session of the African
Commission on Human and People's rights lamented the continued
existence of challenges against enjoyment of fundamental human rights
in southern Africa.
In a report
which coincides with the 30th anniversary of the African
Charter on Human Rights (ACHPR), delegates attending the 50th
session underway in Banjul, The Gambia, attributed this to non -adherence
to the Charter by their respective governments.
The report presented
by Corlette Letlojane of the Human Rights Institute of Southern
Africa (HURISA), noted that 30 years on, the enjoyment of human
rights in the region still leaves a lot to be desired.
The lack of
commitment by member states to timeous state reporting in terms
of the Charter is hampering meaningful assessment of progress in
the promotion and protection of human and peoples' rights
in the sub-region, said Letlojane.
participation by countries such as Zimbabwe and Swaziland in the
United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) sessions, the SADC
NGO's however, said there was lack of political will by member
states to ensure citizen participation in the development of their
national reports. There was also the issue of rejection of some
key recommendations by countries being so reviewed.
of Zimbabwe's rejection of the recommendations that were made
by other members states of the United Nations urging it to repeal
draconian laws such as the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act [AIPPA], was given
as an example.
The slow progress
in the protective mandate of the African Commission due to delays
in the determination and finalisation of communications filed before
it, was also of grave concern. SADC NGO's said this left citizens
exposed to rampant abuse by state actors who continue to violate
fundamental rights and freedoms with impunity.
also raised on the increase in violations of a number of fundamental
liberties in particular the right to liberty, protection of the
law, security of the person, assembly and freedom of expression.
This has seen
a spate of arbitrary arrests, unwarranted detentions and in some
cases prosecution of citizens in a number of countries. Delegates
noted the fatal clampdown against protestors in Malawi in July this
year as well as the victimisation of peaceful protestors in Zimbabwe.
attacks on media practitioners continued to be experienced in Lesotho,
Malawi and Zimbabwe and there are imminent attacks on free expression
in South Africa with the pending Secrecy Bill to classify information
seen as a reminiscence of the apartheid era where the media and
public lived under severe state censorship," said Letlojane.
threat to media freedom was attributed to the retention and use
of repressive laws in some countries such as Zimbabwe in the form
of AIPPA, Broadcasting
Services Act, and Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) Act. In Swaziland, the Suppression
of Terrorism Act was cited as among laws that pose a threat to media
the MISA-Zimbabwe fact
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