Network of African National Human Rights Institutions
By Mr. Med S. K. Kaggwa,
Chairperson, Uganda Human Rights Commission
and Member of the Steering Committee of the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions
48th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
10-26 November, 2010
Honourable Minister of
Justice of the Republic of Gambia,
Chairperson and members of the African Commission on Human Rights,
Your excellencies and members of the Diplomatic Corps, Accredited Consular of the Republic of Gambia,
Representatives of the African Union Member States,
Representatives of the International and Inter-African Organizations’,
Representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,
Representatives of National Human Rights Institutions,
Representatives from Non-governmental Organizations’,
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
All Protocol observed
On behalf of the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions, I would like to thank the government and the people of Gambia for the hospitality they accord us when we attend such meetings and especially for this 48th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human Rights.
I would also like to extend my gratitude to the Chairperson and members of the African Commission for their devotion and commitment in the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa. In spite of the challenges you face, you have established a credible regional human rights mechanism.
The African Commission’s sessions usually provide us as National Human Rights Institutions with an opportunity to exchange information on various human rights challenges and a platform to debate on pertinent human rights issues concerning our continent. This session comes at a time when our continent is still riddled with poverty, wars and conflicts and human rights violations of all kinds and the citizens are increasingly aware of their rights, and demand for their rights and accountability from their governments.
In spite of the progress made by the African leaders’ commitment to promote and protect human rights in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other regional human rights instruments including the Constitutive Act of the African Union, human rights violations still persist. Human rights violations are not only occurring in one country but are rampart in varying forms and degrees across the continent.
Human rights violations are exacerbated by the lack of implementation of the international and regional human rights obligations. Promotion and protection of human rights demand collective efforts. As a Network of African National Human Rights Institutions we are happy to join hands with African States and the African Union mechanisms such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, African Court on Human and Peoples Rights and other Regional treaty monitoring mechanisms, Special Procedures and Civil Society Organizations, among others to promote and protect the rights of people on the African Continent. We believe that coordinated efforts would help in the implementation of the international and regional human rights obligations. That is why as a Network of African Human Rights Institutions we organized a series of workshops between the AU human rights organs, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and Civil Society Organizations with the aim of strengthening collaboration. We are grateful to the members of the African Commission who supported this initiative.
The Network of African National Human
Rights Institutions looks forward to the implementation of the recommendations
of the workshops that had the active participation of the African Commission
and the Committee of African Experts on the Rights and Welfare of Children.
These recommendations included;
- The elaboration of an action plan reinforcing the importance of NHRIs in the work of African regional mechanisms on human rights
- The granting of affiliate status to The Network of African National Human Rights Institutions
- Creating a National Human Rights Institutions Unit within the secretariat of the African Commission
- Facilitation of the granting process of affiliate status to NHRIs
- Revisiting the resolution on NHRIs’ affiliate status
We believe that National Human Rights Institutions are an effective means for the promotion and protection of human rights at the domestic level. The mandate of NHRIs includes monitoring their governments’ compliance with international and regional human rights obligations and follow-up on implementation of recommendations made by the human rights monitoring bodies.
National Human Rights Institutions are complementary to already established institutions and by the nature of their work are in a good position to make unique contribution to a country’s efforts to protect its citizens and to develop a culture that is respectful of human rights and fundamental freedoms. They are vital for enhancement of public awareness of human rights through human rights education, advising and monitoring government’s compliance with international human rights instruments and investigation of alleged human rights violations.
Article 26 of the African Charter clearly provides that:
"States parties to the present Charter shall have the duty to guarantee the independence of the Courts and shall allow the establishment and improvement of appropriate national institutions entrusted with the promotion and protection of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the present Charter."
The African Union, in its effort to make the human rights culture a reality in the continent, has recognized the important role played by NHRIs at the national level by including it in the African Human Rights Strategy which was recently developed in collaboration with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. As a Network of African National Human Rights Institutions we welcome the strategy and support its implementation.
In conclusion, we would like to reiterate the commitment of the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions to work more closely with the AU mechanisms for human rights promotion and protection.
I thank you for listening to me.