The FIDH and its member organizations call on the African Commission to assume its responsibilities

The FIDH and a dozen of its member organizations will be present at the 34th ordinary session of the African Commission of Human and People’s Rights, which will take place in Banjul from 6th to 20th November 2003.

The FIDH and its member organizations are expecting that this session will see some major progress such as:

- the adoption of a regional structure for the protection of human rights defenders;
- the mobilization of African states in favor of the fight against impunity, in particular with the launch of the African Court on Human Rights and the ratification process by States of the International Criminal Court;
- the inclusion of human rights at the very core of NEPAD mechanisms; respecting the process of democratic elections.

Moreover, the Commission will have to examine the human rights situation of Niger, Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Given the continuing human rights violations in these States, this examination is of particular importance. The FIDH and its member organizations in these countries will be presenting to the Commission alternative reports to the periodic reports of States.

This session will take place against a sombre background described by the FIDH president, Sidiki Kaba, as the "autumn of human rights" . The Commission should not turn a deaf ear to this reality. Indeed, since the last session of the African Commission, the FIDH has denounced many human rights violations, such as: rejection of political alternation and pluralism, rigged elections in Togo, the coup d’Etat in Guinée Bissau, and in Sao Tome and Principe, arbitrary arrests and persons held in detention in Mauritania, torture in Cameroon, death sentences in Nigeria, mass expulsion of immigrants in Djibouti, restriction of basic freedoms in Senegal and in Chad, harassment of human rights activists in Zimbabwe, Algeria and Tunisia, economic and social rights trampled, armed conflict and/or violation of international humanitarian law in Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC), Burundi, etc.

Many challenges will be put to the African Commission which will have to show a real will and ability to take these up, in particular by adopting a firm stance on these situations. The FIDH specifically hopes that it will take account of the elements presented in the two reports published on this occasion by the FIDH, on human rights violations committed in Cameroon and in the Democratic Republic of Congo .

Press contact : +33 1 43 55 2518/14 12

1- See FIDH position paper for the 34th session of the African Commission for Human Rights : « Sombre situation des droits de l’Homme en Afrique : Entre responsabilité des Etats et réaction de l’Union africaine » www.fidh.org
2- "La torture au Cameroun: une réalité "banale", une impunité quotidienne", October 2003 ; www.fidh.org
3- "Persistance de la haine ethnique et des violations massives et systématiques des droits de l’Homme à Bunia", October

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