PRESS RELEASE

COMMUNIQUE DE PRESSE

Year 2013 Selected
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N°: 117/2013
30 April 2013 [ABUJA-NIGERIA]

HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGNERS SEEK PROSECUTION OF VIOLATORS AT ECOWAS COURT OF JUSTICE

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 Court. 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 security agents. 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 terrorism.


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