Legal and human rights experts have challenged journalists from eastern and southern Africa to take their governments to task in ensuring that they domesticate instruments under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) to benefit citizens.
The experts, who have also urged the media to educate the masses on instruments in the Charter, and follow up issues at the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, made the call on Thursday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where 32 journalists from the two regions, including two from Malawi, are undergoing training on reporting and engaging with the African Commission and Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (Accerwc).
It has been organised by the Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ Kenya), Norwegian Refugee Council, African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies and International Commission of Jurists (ICJ).
One of the facilitators, law and media expert Jenerali Ulimwengu, said progress has been made in Africa, but there is need for the media to continue reminding governments of their commitments.
He said: “There are many instruments under the charter. What the media needs to do is tell people about them, and check if their governments are doing what is required. Some governments have still not ratified some protocols like that on elderly persons. We need to ask questions on why that is the case.”
On her part, NRC African Union (AU) liaison office resident representative Yemiscrach Kedebe said they want to increase media practitioners’ understanding of African human rights mechanisms based on concrete and practical experiences.
“We will, therefore, consolidate, build upon knowledge and practices and encourage greater engagement by the media with the operations and proceedings of the AU and the Acerwc,” she said.
Speaking during the opening of the 63rd Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights last year in Gambia, Justice Tujilane Chizumila, a judge at the ACHPR, challenged governments to always obey the law when running State affairs so that citizens enjoy their rights.
She said failure to do so would lead citizens to lose trust in the law and institutions set up by the AU.
Chizumila said: “The AU has consistently defended the rule of law and independence of judicial organs and elevated them to the level of fundamental principles of the union and its member States.”