Honourable Members of the African Commission on Human and peoples’ Rights;
Your Excellency Mrs. Aicha L. Abdullahi, Commissioner for Political Affairs, African Union Commission;
The President of the African Human Rights Court and delegation;
Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps accredited to the Republic of The Gambia;
Distinguished Delegates of African Union Members States;
Distinguished Representatives of National Human Rights Institutions;
Distinguished Representatives of Non-governmental Organizations;
Distinguished invited guests;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;
All protocols respectfully observed.
It is my privilege and honour to attend the opening ceremony of the 53rd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights being hosted here at the headquarters of the Commission in Banjul, The Gambia. On behalf of His Excellency, the President of the Republic of The Gambia, Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya A.J.J. AMMEH, THE Government and the People of The Gambia, I welcome you all to the smiling Coast of Africa, The Gambia on this 53rs Ordinary Session of the African Commission. The Government of the Gambia is pleased to once again host the 53rs Session of the African Commission.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
This year not only marks 26 years of existence of the African Commission in promoting and protecting human rights on the continent, but also marks a momentous occasion for the continent; the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Organization of African Unity and 11 years of the launch of the African Union. It is therefore an opportune moment for the whole of Africa to come together and work towards promoting a developed, peaceful, secure and stable Africa, where the respect for human rights and dignity is inherent, a condition which is necessary for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
The African Commission has over the years no doubt, been striving to promote and protect human rights in Africa and I wish to recognize the fundamental contribution the African Commission has made in tackling human rights issues on the Continent.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
While appreciating the efforts in safeguarding our beloved Africa, as a continent we are still facing a number of challenges tat disrupt our progress towards development; such as internal conflicts in Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, assisting in the identification of proceeds of suspicious criminal conduct and the combating of money laundering and other terrorist financing.
The Government of The Gambia has also commenced consultations on the establishment of a National Human Rights Commission with the assistance of the Commonwealth Secretariat. It is hoped that this process will be expedited and the Gambia will soon be part of some African States that have a functional independent National Human Rights Commission. Infact a sensitization/validation workshop has been scheduled for this on the 15th and 16the April 2013. Furthermore, the Government of The Gambia has taken steps in ensuring that The Gambia complies with its reporting obligations under all regional, sub regional and international human rights treaties that it is a party to. To this end a newly constituted taskforce has been created to mobilize Government departments and other stakeholders to ensure that the Gambia complies with its reporting obligations.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
Other parts of Africa have also witnessed positive progress and developments in the promotion and protection of human rights; there have been peaceful presidential election in Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana and most recently in Kenya. Some African States have adopted laws to fulfill their human rights obligations under various regional and international instruments. Others have adopted various strategies to implement the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
Most importantly distinguished ladies and gentlemen, our contribution as Governments, National Human Rights Institutions, Non Governmental Organizations, and all other stakeholders working in the human rights arena is indeed very important towards ensuring the effective promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa. This forum of the Africa Commission is therefore the right place to discuss fundamental issues of human and peoples’ rights on our continent. I therefore would like to thank all stakeholders present for their commitment in the advancement of human rights in Africa and to express the commitment of Government of The Republic of The Gambia to the work of the African Commission and to the protection and promotion of human rights in Africa.
Finally, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of His Excellency the President, Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya A.J.J Jammeh, the Government and the People of The Republic of The Gambia, I once again welcome you all to The Smiling Coast of Africa and wish you very fruitful deliberations during this session. It is therefore my singular honour and privilege to declare the 53rd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights OFFICIALLY OPEN.
I thank you all for your kind attention.