Hannah Foster decries Human Rights Violations amid COVID-19 in Africa

July 16, 2020

On 14 July 2020 the FOROYAA Newspaper carried a summary of remarks made by Hannah Foster, who is the spokesperson of the NGOs Forum at the opening ceremony of the 66th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) which started on Monday July 13th 2020 (via Zoom)

Gambian human rights defender, Mrs. Hannah Foster, has raised concern about human rights violations in Africa, in particular amid the spread of Covid-19

We all have seen that from all parts of the world human rights violations have remained a major concern in most countries. Since late December 2019, the Coronavirus which causes Covid-19 has held the world captive with uncertainties, fear and insecurity. In most countries, we’ve seen the freedom of association and assembly remains a major cause for concern in most of the countries reviewed,” she said

Madam Foster said it is also a cause for concern that with Covid-19, there has been an increase of gender based violence registered in most of the countries that have been reviewed by the Forum.

She added that it was reported at the Forum that systematic harassment and targeting of human rights defenders in many countries persist and or have intensified the closing of civic space due to the existence of restrictive legislations.

“It was ascertained that a lot more needs to be done as many African countries continue to face challenges of insecurity, violence, terror attacks and the volatile situation brought about by Covid-19,” she said.

Speaking further, Madam Foster said they had raised the issue of overcrowding in prisons especially during Covid-19. “The overcrowding of prisons due to non-observance of judicial guarantees in respect of remand detainees as well as standard minimum rules, also have created challenges. And the Forum calls on the African Commission to urge States to respect and implement all laws governing the treatment of prisoners especially in this time of Covid-19, which has brought about an extension of restricting laws that are being implemented,” Foster informed the participants.

Foster said the Forum urged more States and NGOs to use and popularize the African Commission processes and decisions and to encourage States to comply with decisions as well as consider signing the Protocol on the right to individul complaint

We have challenges of Benin and Cote d’Ivoire withdrawing their signatures of Article 346. And we will like to urge the Commission to enter into dialogue with them to ensure that they encourage them to review the decision,” she said.

Foster said the forum also observed that freedom of expressions, the criminalization of bloggers and internet restrictions continue to hinder the independent and freedom of journalists and like-minded groups.

Humanitarian access has also become very problematic. The Forum took this opportunity to call on the African Commission and all States that have not ratified pertinent treaties to speedily do so in order to enable their implementation as the enjoyment of those rights by all citizens,” she added.

Read the original article on Foroyaa.

https://allafrica.com/stories/202007150349.html

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