International Criminal Court Judge Sanji Monageng has urged non governmental and civil society organizations to champion the promotion of human rights in Africa. Speaking at a farewell dinner hosted on her behalf recently, Monageng said in the 20th century, Africa witnessed the worst cases of human rights violations.
Within the last quarter of the 20th century, Africa has witnessed a growing recognition of the place and relevance of human rights. She said millions of people are denied their rights on a daily basis.
“Some for a right as simple as expressing an opinion.┬á In some countries in Africa, one runs the risk of being jailed or even killed for expressing a critical opinion about their government. Many journalists have suffered for doing their job,” she said.
However, Monageng said significant developments in human rights have been observed of late, especially after the African Human Rights Court came into existence. The gradual disappearance of autocracies, the introduction of term limits for presidents and the respect for the rule of law have also aided the development of human rights in Africa.
Monageng especially lauded NGOs for expanding the scope for the enjoyment of human rights in Africa.
“NGOs have spearheaded campaigns for greater respect for human rights and dignity by raising red flags whenever they see human rights violations being perpetrated,” she said.
She said NGOs have immensely facilitated the communications procedure under the African Charter, the special mechanisms and the working program for the African Commission throughout its existence.
“Thus far, their activism around various human rights themes has been highly impressive. Without NGOs, there probably would be no African Commission, and again I bear testimony to this,” said Monageng.
She challenged human rights activists and NGOs to maintain their momentum in order to create, foster and nurture a culture of observance of human rights, a climate of legality and positive traditional African and moral values. She warned that if NGO’s do not move in tandem with the views, concerns and the aspirations of the people whose rights they seek to champion and protect, there will naturally be a disconnect and a whittling down of gains that Africa has made over the years.