West Africa’s human rights institutions have called for the prosecution of
human rights violations at the Community Court of Justice while Member States
should establish a mechanism for ensuring compliance with the decisions of the
In the absence of a state institution to perform such a role, members of the
Network of National Human rights Institutions in West Africa should be saddled
with the responsibility, the Network said after a two-day meeting and annual
general assembly which ended in Abuja on Friday, 26th April 2013.
The meeting and assembly were called to agree ways of increasing the capacity
of members to respond to emerging human rights challenges in the region and
reinforce the capacities of senior officials of its members in investigating,
monitoring, documenting and reporting human rights violations.
It was also intended to help reposition the NNHRI and its Secretariat for more
effectiveness in the protection and promotion of human rights in West Africa.
Participants agreed to activate regional judicial and financial structures to
allow for an effective tackling of human rights-related atrocities, as well as
accept an ECOWAS proposal to implement and support human rights programmes in
collaboration with NNHRIs at the national level across the region.
In addition, they tasked the ECOWAS Commission to ensure that country reports
of all human rights institutions be presented to the ECOWAS Parliament and
Court of Justice, popularized and shared in Member States.
While reflecting on the various crises confronting the region, particularly
terrorism, the participants called on Community citizens to properly document
evidence of human rights violations by both terrorist groups and national
security forces, and report same to the NNHRI secretariat.
Furthermore, they agreed on the adoption of a common vision to deal with human
rights violations and related challenges in relation to electoral, democratic,
economic and social instability and leadership crises in the region.
To ensure an effective service delivery, they agreed to work more closely with
the West African Civil Society forum (WACSOF) and other national civil society
organizations in advocacy and sensitization.
In addition, they called for the strengthening of measures aimed at enforcing
the free movement of persons.
In a four-point resolution released after the annual general assembly,
participants specifically stated that the right to freedom of expression and
the press be protected, and the security of journalists be assured in all
Member States. In addition, they urged Member States to respect the rights of
citizens to demonstrate or engage in strikes in line with the extant laws in
their respective countries.
In addition, they called on ECOWAS to ensure accountability for human rights
violations arising from terrorism, whether perpetrated by terrorists or state
Moreover, they called for an end to the long transition in Guinea Bissau
through the conduct of a presidential election. Similarly, they urged ECOWAS to
ensure regular but free, fair, credible and inclusive presidential and
legislative elections in Member States.
They also recommended that the Network endorse their proposal to collaborate
with relevant UN agencies to organize a regional conference to deliberate on
the issue of the protection of human rights in the course of preventing