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: Anny Kapenga

As a young student, Anny Kapenga used to cringe at the cult-like worship of Mobutu Sese Seko, the then Zaire’s President. By then, in the early 1990s, Zaire was still under one party rule, and calls were increasing for Mobutu to open political space to allow other parties to operate. In the meantime, however, all Zairians were expected to show affection for Mobutu wherever they gathered in public.

Students across Zaire’s schools were required to sing and dance adoringly before his (Mobutu)’s portrait every morning before they went to class, and all school scholastic materials were emblemed with his portrait. A young Anny never really appreciated the obsession:

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