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Archive for November 11th, 2008

Posted by African Press International on November 11, 2008

By Legally Cole

Africa Human Rights Day 21 October 2008

On 21 October 2008, African Human Rights Day, the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights as the chief regional body entrusted with the responsibility to promote and protect human and peoples rights in Africa, will be saluting those around Africa and indeed the world who struggle to defend, protect and promote the fundamental freedom that are the birthright of all mankind. 21 October is the day chosen by the African Union to commemorate the entry into force of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, which was adopted on June 27 1981, by Member States of the Organization of African Unity (now AU). The African Charter came into force on 21 October 1986 in accordance with Article 63 of the Charter. On 21 October, we commemorate this historic document, the values it enshrines and our ongoing effort worldwide to promote human rights.

By a Resolution adopted at its 5th Ordinary Session held in Benghazi (Libya) from 3rd to 14th April 1989, the African Commission on Human Peoples Rights declared 21st October as African Human Rights Day.

In commemoration of African Human Rights Day, African Commission is planning the following events in Banjul, The Gambia: A television human rights panel discussion moderated by Gambia Radio and Television Services to be aired on 20 October 2008. The panelists will come from the African Commission, the Government of the Republic of The Gambia, the University of The Gambia and NGOs in The Gambia.

In collaboration with the University of The Gambia, a lecture to the Gambian Bar Association on the role of lawyers in addressing human rights issues and problems. This was organized at the office of Chief Justice, Court room 1 onj the 20th October 2008 from 1: 00 to 6: 00pm.

A march-past for the schools, NGOs and the general public on the 21 October 2008 from West Field to the offices of the African Commission at 48 Kairaba Avenue which started at 8: 30 a.m.

A free Musical Extravaganza Concert on 21st October 2008 at Dream Park, featuring super stars like: Emerson, DJ Lulu, and Lady F from Sierra Leone. Sa Rimbam from Senegal, Pa Omar Jack and Jell Band, Lamarana and Momodou Musa, Akil Chinelo (Scorcher), Jalex from The Gambia at 8: 30 pm.

The public, Non Governmental Organizations and all organizations working in various domains of human rights, are encouraged to celebrate this day in order to promote, once again the effective realization of fundamental liberties in Africa.

Human Rights Day Message of the Honourable Justice Sanji Mmasenono Monageng,

Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights on African Human Rights Day 21 October 2008.

Today, African Human Rights Day, the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACPHR) salutes those around Africa, and indeed, the world who struggle to promote, protect and defend the fundamental freedoms that are the birthright of all mankind.

Twenty two years ago, on 21st October 1986, Africa saw the coming into force of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (the African Charter), which had been adopted earlier by Member States of the Organization of Africa Unity (now African Union) on 27tht June 1981.

The Charter was a solemn undertaking to promote and safeguard freedom, justice, equality and human dignity, in the region. This undertaking was in consonance with a commitment to recognized on the one hand, that human beings, which justifies their, international protection, and on the other hand that the reality and respect of peoples rights necessarily guarantee human rights.

The adoption of the African Charter and the establishment of the ACHPR in 1987 signaled a new era in the promotion and protection on the continent.

The commemoration of African Human Rights Day marks the adoption of the historic document which was endorsed by the Africans Commission at its fifth Ordinary Session in April 1989 in Benghazi, Libya. The Charter reaffirmed adherence to the principles of human and peoples rights and freedoms, and aimed to address the multitude of human rights problems that are affecting the lives of millions of men, women and children in the region, including the challenges of conflicts, diseases especially HIV/AIDS, poverty and discrimination. It was also aimed at protecting basic political social and economical rights.

On 21 October, we commemorate that momentous document, the values it enshrines and our ongoing effort regionally to promote human rights.

Over the years, Africa Human Rights Day has been observed in many counties in the region. Those observations have taken many forms, from symbolic events such as the flying of the AU flag in civic venues, to serious debates and forums about the issues before the AU and ACPHR, their relevance to ordinary citizens, and suggestions on how to address regional problems through regional and international co-operation.

These observations provide a unique opportunity to engage our peoples in the activities of the ACPHR and to provide an opportunity to promote the actual exercise and enjoyment of human and peoples rights and basic freedoms. Therefore, States Parties to the African Charter, National Human Rights Institutions, NGOs, all organization working in various domains of human rights and the public, are encouraged to celebrate this Day in order to promote, once again, the effective realization of fundamental liberties in Africa.

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DR Congo: Insecurity prevails despite ceasefire

Posted by African Press International on November 11, 2008

Goma (Democratic Republic of Congo) – The dirt road leading to Kibumba refugee camp is thronged with people trying to return to their homes as diplomatic efforts continue to strengthen a tenuous ceasefire.

The landscape here, 18 kilometres north of the provincial capital Goma, looks much the same as it did earlier this week, when an estimated 100,000 people across the eastern half of North Kivu fled camps and villages in fear of being caught in the crossfire between advancing Tutsi-led Congrs National pour la Dfense du Peuple (CNDP) and the government’s troops.

Men pushed bicycles stacked with cooking materials and a few other possessions, and women carried babies on their backs and balanced cloth sacks on their heads. Gaggles of children followed.

“The situation is catastrophic. The displaced people are thirsty and sick, and have little help since Monday,” said Deogratias Makombe, mayor of the Buhumba district.

Officials from Doctors Without Borders say the number and movement of people is difficult to gauge.

“The original inhabitants of the villages are trying to return to their homes, but there are many others displaced from refugee camps that are also trying to go home,” said Marie-Noelle Rodrigue, a spokeswoman from Doctors Without Borders.

Rumours about rebel attacks nearby led many to break their march back to Kibumba from areas around Goma. Despite a lack of food, water and shelter, tens of thousands are at a makeshift camp called Kibati, five kilometres from a frontline patrolled by government troops.

“It seems like the place [Kibumba] has not been safe enough for them to go back. It seems that they are trying to gather in a few places between here and Goma,” said Rodrigue.

Some refugees claimed they had been unable to cross the frontline.

Desire Mustafa is trying to return with his ten children. “When I tried to go back the road was blocked.”

Sounds of gunfire earlier that day sparked confusion among the people trying to return to Kibumba. CNDP rebels said government forces fired warning shots to signal their presence at Kibati. Some people in the camp said they believed fighting erupted again outside of Kibumba and they didn’t know if they could safely pass.

Mwangaza fled Kibumba with her five children. She said that although she has nothing to eat or medicine for her children who have fallen sick this week, she’s afraid to go back to home.

“All of my children have fever and diarrhoea. I’m asking if someone can help my children and bring them food and medicine because I don’t know what’s there in Kibumba,” she said.

CNDP forces, led by renegade general Laurent Nkunda, say they are protecting the Tutsi-minority from ex-Interahamwe, Hutu militia who fled Rwanda after committing the genocide.

The CNDP advanced close to the eastern lakeside city of Goma on Oct. 29. For now, they control the road that leads to Kibumba about five kilometres north from the masses of sprawling homeless at Kibati.

The rebels appeared calm sitting outside barracks two kilometres from government troops. They say they are not stopping people from returning to their homes.

“Since 6 a.m. we’ve watched thousands of people return to their homes,” said one rebel soldier.

Back in Goma, schools and shops are still closed but people are making their way out of their homes. Police are patrolling the streets and there is a heavier presence of U.N. troops on the streets. Outside Goma, the bodies of several soldiers were found on the street as United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer and Alan Doss, the head of the U.N. Mission to Congo arrived on Friday.

Many NGOs and residents left Goma on Oct. 30, after guns crackled through a tense night of fighting and looting in the city. Ten people were reported killed.

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API/Source.Inter Press Service (IPS) – November 3, 2008.

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