The African Union (AU) will no longer sit and watch States abusing their citizens’ human rights, AU Commission director of political affairs Khabele Matlosa has said.
He was speaking in Arusha, Tanzania, on Wednesday during the Fifth High Level Dialogue on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance in Africa organised by the African Court for Human and People’s Rights (AfCHPR).
Matlosa described as a “dark hour” the era in which African countries were passive when some States were busy abusing their own people.
He said: “It is clear that the AU has abandoned the old [now defunct] Organisation of Africa Unity’s doctrine of non-interference in the internal affairs of States. The AU has replaced that old doctrine with a new and more progressive paradigm of non-indifference to human rights abuses within member States.
“This new doctrine gives AU the power to intervene in its member States in cases of human rights abuses. This new approach challenges the concept of State sovereignty in Africa and its absolutist terms.”
For the past years, Africa has seen rise in violence against women and children, xenophobia and abuse of rights of refugees and people with albinism, among other issues.
Over the years, Africa has witnessed genocide in Rwanda, xenophobia in South Africa and terrorism in East, West and North Africa, including cases of mass rape and recruitment of child soldiers, especially in a number of war-torn countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.
African Court president Justice Slyvain Ore challenged stakeholders in democratic governance and the protection of human rights to work together to reduce cases of human rights violations on the continent. n