21 October commemorates the day that the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights entered into force in 1986. The adoption of a human rights treaty for Africa had however begun as early as 1961. At the time, the Organization for African Unity (OAU) was concerned with the eradication of colonialism and the dismantling of apartheid. The OAU viewed human rights instruments as promoting peaceful and positive international cooperation. The African Charter was to reflect the history, values, tradition and economic concerns of the continent. The African Charter was adopted on 26 June 1981, but only entered into force in 1986 after receiving the required number of ratifications and accessions.
The African Charter seeks to combine African values with international norms. It guarantees civil and political rights as well as socio-economic rights in a single document emphasizing the unity and indivisibility of all human rights. It differs from other international instruments in proclaiming collective rights and individual duties. Duties imposed are towards the family, community and the state. The supervisory institution of the African Charter is the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.
Sierra Leone has ratified the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. We therefore have made a very serious commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights both in Sierra Leone and the continent.
As part of the commemoration of African Human Rights Day (21 October 2010) the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Peace Building Mission in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) and civil society will be hosting events in Freetown and the regions on this day on the theme: REALIZING HUMAN RIGHTS: A KEY TO ACHIEVING SUSTAINABLE PEACE IN AFRICA honoring the year 2010 as the Year of Peace and Security in Africa. Across the continent, African governments and peoples will be undertaking a variety of activities that reiterate the connection between respect for human rights and sustainable peace.
To give effect to this celebration in 2010, the day will be marked by:
· A one day seminar in the Western Area on the 21st October 2010 with presentations on the theme and other topics on the African Charter on the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights;
· Media and Publicity for the seminar in western area;
· Media and Publicity on the African Charter in the other three Regional headquarter (Makeni, Bo, Kenama) and;
· Public Lecture in the three regions;
It is expected that the celebration will create greater public awareness of the African Charter and the human rights it guarantees to all of us. In the world we currently live in it is necessary to re-educate ourselves that human rights are african and need to be promoted and protected by Africans for Africans.
Today as we focus on Africa Human Rights Day, let us put the spotlight on the importance of our peace and security as a nation, let us put the spotlight on the humanity of each of us so as not to diminish our own humanity nor reduce our own ability to enjoy unfettered human rights.
How often as human beings we have trampled on our fellow human beings on account of race, religion, gender, economic competition, or blind pursuit of political power.
We have a national responsibility to ensure that human rights flourishes everywhere in Sierra Leone. And together, we shall work towards continued dialogue, using the Banjul Charter as the basis for all discussions on this day for the full realization of the objectives of the Human Rights Day theme.
I thank you all.
Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.