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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Statement by Commissioner Reine Alapini-Gansou, Chairperson of the ACHPR, on the Occasion of the Commemoration of Africa Human Rights Day, 21 October 2010

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights celebrates every year Africa Human Rights Day, not only to mark the entry into force of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on 21 October 1986, but also to stimulate a reflection on the implementation of human rights in the African continent.

This year, Africa Human Rights Day is being commemorated across the continent under the theme: “REALIZING HUMAN RIGHTS: A KEY TO ACHIEVING SUSTAINABLE PEACE IN AFRICA.” Actually, the year 2010 was proclaimed as the year of peace and security in Africa, and the African Commission, like other organs of the African Union, has, in this regard undertaken several promotional activities geared toward lasting peace and security in Africa.

The African continent continues to be the scene of several human and material disasters resulting from armed conflicts and bad governance, and all of this is exacerbated by the increasing state of poverty the vast majority of our people in rural area already live in. The African Commission having gauged the state of human rights in our continent, established, in this regard several Special Mechanisms to help better protect specific rights that call for collective and individual commitment of all stakeholders.

The African Commission, despite its human resources constraint, has established this year, a Special Mechanism on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations in Africa, and another Special Mechanism on Human Rights and HIV along with its other existing procedures. This shows amongst other things, the commitment of the African Commission to the indivisibility and the interrelatedness of human rights.

Several State Parties to the African Charter celebrate, this year, their fiftieth anniversary of independence. The African Commission has already invited all stakeholders to meditation and to a frank and sincere dialogue about what have been achieved to ensure that human rights are effectively respected within families, communities, and in our countries. No action should be considered too much when it comes to putting human rights in their right place, as we believe that they are and will remain a factor of development.

It is also important that, since we are gathering our efforts to launch the campaign to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the African Charter, to make a comprehensive review of the human rights situation in our continent.

I finally suggest that we think sincerely of those innocent men and women who are victims of the human rights violations in Africa and some of whom have paid with their lives.

My deepest wish is that every stakeholder; State Parties in particular, remember their commitments on this occasion.

Banjul, 21 October 2010
Chairperson of the African Commission on Human & Peoples’ Rights