Statement of the Working Group on the Rights of Older Persons and Persons with Disabilities in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, on the occasion of the 27th International Day of Older Persons – 1st October 2017

    Today marks the 27th anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons (IDOP). It is an important event which the Working Group on the Rights of Older Persons and Persons with Disabilities in Africa (the Working Group) of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) traditionally celebrates in consonance with its mandate to ensure the promotion and protection of their rights. 

    The dedication of a special day for the celebration of Older Persons is a commitment by all stakeholders in the International Community. It allows time for reflection on the situation of Older Persons as well as for acknowledging the vital role they play in society. This year’s theme, “Stepping into the Future: Tapping the Talents, Contributions and Participation of Older Persons in Society”, seeks to get rid of the too frequent prejudice that an Older Person faces:  that he /she is insignificant and has no relevance for the present and future generation. The theme calls for the making of a better world which builds the foundations of its future generation on the sagacity and knowledge inherent in Older Persons.  In fact, the objectives of the theme of the 2017 IDOP subsumes the necessity of setting in place ways and means to optimise conditions for bringing out the talents, skills, knowledge and wisdom of Older Persons for the benefit of one and all.

    The African Union has, in that vein, adopted in January 2016 a Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa (the Protocol),which aims at promoting and protecting the rights of Older Persons and guaranteeing that they fully contribute and participate in society. The drafting process of the said Protocol was conducted by the Commission.

    The Protocol which is now opened for signature and ratification by Member States, enjoins the latter to, among other things, “enact legislation and take other measures that protect the right of older persons to express opinions and participate in social and political life”. The Protocol provides also for the elimination of discrimination against Older Persons, access to justice and equal protection before the law, access to employment without discrimination, social protection, access to health care services, access to education and Information and Communication Technology, as well as accessibility to infrastructure for Older Persons; etc.

    On the occasion of this 27th edition of the IDOP, as the Working Group rejoices together with Older Persons and all stakeholders who strive to uphold the rights of Older Persons, it calls on Member States of the African Union to ratify the Protocol to enable Older Persons to have at their disposal an internationally binding legal tool in Africa from which their rights could be protected and enjoyed throughout Member States. The Working Group welcomes the signature of the Protocol by Benin, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Zambia which are urged to ratify it and champion the ratification process of the Protocol amongst the other Member States of the African Union. 

    Further, the Working Group reiterates its position that Older Persons themselves take the lead and initiate measures toward the elimination of any barrier to the enjoyment of all their rights and that, far from being swayed to be considered as burdens to society, they assert themselves as the depositories of immeasurable assets to humanity. The Working Group takes this opportunity to once again appreciate the efforts of all stakeholders that are tirelessly striving to ensure that Older Persons enjoy, without hindrance, all their human rights in the same way as other age groups in society.

    While reaffirming its unwavering commitment to continue the promotion and protection of the rights of Older Persons, the Working Group wishes to all Old Persons and their families or care-givers, a happy 27th anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons.   

    Banjul, 1st October 2017 

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      Date: 01 October 2017

      Commissioners: Yeung Kam John Yeung Sik Yuen

      Special Mechanism: Working Group on Rights of Older Persons and People with Disabilities

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