- The Regional Sensitization Seminar on the Rights of Indigenous Populations/Communities in North Africa was organized by the African Commission’s Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities (the Working Group) in collaboration with the Congres Mondial Amazigh, in Tunis, Tunisia from 5 to 6 February 2014.
- The Seminar was attended by Commissioner Soyata Maiga, Chairperson of the Working Group, Mr. Dimiter Chalev, Head of the Tunisian country Office of the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), members of the Working Group, representatives of National Human Rights Institutions from Algeria and Egypt, civil society organizations, journalists, and indigenous peoples representatives from the North African sub-region.
- A total of forty-seven (47) delegates, including one (1) representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, seven (7) members of the Working Group, three (3) representatives of National Human Rights Institutions, eight (8) Journalists and twenty-eight (28) representatives of non-governmental organizations and indigenous peoples participated at the Seminar.
- The main objective of the Seminar was to sensitize key stakeholders in North Africa about the work of the Working Group; identify the main challenges faced by indigenous communities in the sub-region and identify the principal tenets of a strategy for better collaboration among the various stakeholders present at the Seminar. In view of this objective, various issues pertinent to the topic were discussed including:
· A review of the state of indigenous peoples in Africa;
· International legal and institutional frameworks for the promotion and protection of indigenous peoples’ rights;
· The African human rights system and indigenous peoples’ rights;
· Key challenges facing indigenous peoples in North Africa, and best practices;
· Increasing recognition and legal protection of indigenous populations’ rights at the regional and international level, and best practices; and
· Strategy for regional networking and advocacy.
- Presentations were followed by interactive
discussions and group work.
- After an intensive and participatory dialogue, the participants made the following recommendations:-
- To Governments of the North African sub-region;
· Ratify relevant international and regional instruments including the ILO Convention 169 and the Protocol Establishing the African Court;
· Constitutionally recognize the existence of indigenous peoples, and respect their cultures, traditions, languages, beliefs and traditional knowledge, and take the necessary measures to protect and promote their cultural heritage;
· Recognize the right of indigenous peoples to freely use and dispose their traditional land, natural resources and wealth. Where indigenous peoples have been evicted of their land, they must be restituted and if the situation does not allow, they must be compensated;
· Respect the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent of indigenous peoples with regards to projects and programs that affect them;
· Recognize the right to development of indigenous peoples, and desist from taking lands and territories belonging to indigenous peoples;
· Stop the policy of assimilation and encourage cultural diversity
· Carry out census of indigenous peoples, and issue identity cards;
· Register new born children, and respect the right of parents to give their children names of their choice;
· Respect indigenous peoples’ right to freedom of association and the right to fully and actively participate in the political affairs of their country;
· Ensure equality of opportunity and stop discrimination against indigenous peoples;
· Allocate the necessary resources and budget for the promotion and protection of indigenous peoples’ rights;
· Ensure indigenous peoples’ right to access to media, and develop and implement policies that ensure good and sufficient media coverage and voice to indigenous peoples as per indigenous peoples’ own wishes and demands;
b. To the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
· Carry out studies to document and analyze the situation of indigenous peoples in North Africa; and
· Translate and distribute relevant international and regional instruments and documents in the language of indigenous peoples in North Africa;
c. To Civil Society Organizations, National Human Rights Institutions, and development partners
· Network and coordinate their efforts for the promotion and protection of indigenous peoples’ rights;
· Implement programs of capacity building, and sensitize indigenous peoples, the media, legal practitioners and other stakeholders about the rights of indigenous peoples;
· Submit indigenous peoples cases to international and regional treaty monitoring bodies; and
· Make effective use of information and communication technologies to make various instruments and publications on indigenous peoples available to the wider public;
d. To Indigenous peoples
· Conduct continuous awareness raising through civil society organizations; and
· Set up a body that voices the common concerns of indigenous peoples in the sub-region; and
· Participate at the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples which is going to be held in September 2014.
Done in Tunis, Tunisia 6 February 2014