BANJUL: HRDs’ challenges continue as African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights reaches 30 years

BANJUL: HRDs’ challenges continue as African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights reaches 30 years

As the human rights community celebrates 30 years of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, human rights defenders continue to be impeded in the course of promoting and protecting human rights. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) should call for an end to restrictive laws mainly aimed at thwarting freedom of association and expression, acts of intimidation against key civil society actors and physical and verbal threats, which all threaten the fundamental rights and work of human rights defenders.

In its intervention to the Commission today, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRD-Net) raised concerns about how human rights defenders and in particular journalists in almost all the countries in the sub-region are being targeted and restricted in carrying out their work of informing the populace. EHAHRD-Net highlighted cases of attacks on journalists mainly from Burundi, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea, as well as the deteriorating legal and security environment for human rights defenders (HRDs) throughout the region.

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Human Rights Defender of the month: Esther Tawiah

In Ghana, Esther Tawiah is one of the loudest voices for women empowerment and gender. It is also why she is one of the most loathed. Born and raised in New-Tafo in the country’s eastern region, Esther grew up surrounded by a culture that frowned at the idea of women participating in public affairs, and witnessed firsthand, the backlash those who dared to challenge that cultural norm faced.

“I grew up in a society where ageism and sexism were so entrenched. As a young person, you weren’t supposed to give your opinion on public issues, especially if you were a woman. Women who dared to speak up were caricatured and branded as frustrated, unmarriageable prostitutes, all designed to shut them up,” she says.

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