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EU-AU Civil Society Seminar Human Rights Dialogue

Thursday November 02, 2017 - 05:07:05 in Latest News by Super Admin
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    EU-AU Civil Society Seminar Human Rights Dialogue

    The 7th African Union – European Union (EU) Civil Society Seminar on Human Rights Dialogue was held on 28-29 October 2017 in Banjul, the Gambia, with the focus on the fight against torture and ill-treatment as well as redress for victims on bot

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The 7th African Union – European Union (EU) Civil Society Seminar on Human Rights Dialogue was held on 28-29 October 2017 in Banjul, the Gambia, with the focus on the fight against torture and ill-treatment as well as redress for victims on both continents, in inter-continental relations and at multilateral level.

Some sixty (60) representatives of the civil society from Europe and Africa attended the seminar, which was funded by the European Union Commission and hosted by the African Union Commission, under the leadership of the Joint EU-AU Civil Society Steering Committee on Human Rights and Democratic Governance.

This Civil Society Human Rights seminar is meant to compliment the official EU-AU Human Rights Dialogue, which was held on 31 October 2017 in Banjul to jointly discuss human rights issues of interest for both continents.

Speaking at the opening, Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), Omar Faruk Osman, who is the Co-Chair of the EU-AU Civil Society Steering Committee said "Torture and ill-treatment are cross-cutting issues in all human rights work, including freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association, rights of women, minorities, protection of human rights defenders, enforced disappearances, rights of refugees and migrants and the shrinking space for civil society”.

"It is either we play politics with the rights of the people or we objectively stand up for the principle of human rights. Torture and ill-treatment are a reality on both continents and committed in a range of contexts, including in the fight against terrorism, general policing, detention, as well as during armed conflict, including in my own country, Somalia,” added Osman while also stressing that the space of civil society in Africa is shrinking at attacks on independent civil society organisations are mounting with the enactment and implementations of undemocratic laws and arbitrary policies. "When journalists who are supposed to tell the plight of victims of torture are themselves tortured and face other forms of cruel treatments, how can we expose these brutal and inhumane actions that are prevalent in our communities” he asked.

The Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) Adv. Faith Pansy Tlakula addressed the seminar to lend her support to the civil society who are fighting for the protection and promotion of human rights in Africa. Madame Tlakula bemoaned campaign to stigmatize and de-legitimize independent civil society community in Africa which is disturbing trend for the African Commission.

African and European civil society representatives discussed key challenges in the fight against torture on the African and European continents, in EU-AU partnership and in cooperation at multilateral level, identified best practices, exchanged experiences on ways to prevent and respond to torture and ill-treatment where it occurs, and developed set of recommendations to the African Union and its institutions, AU member states, the European institutions and EU member states.

AU Commissioner Minate, EU SR Stavros and 2 Co-Chairs of Africa & Europe
The civil society gathering was attended by African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs H.E. Minata Samate Cessouma and European Union Special Representative for Human Rights H.E. Stavros Lambrinidis who expressed their support to the work of the civil society, their commitment to promote enabling environment for civil society to operate, and expressed their institutional and political engagement to end the scandal of torture and other cruel treatments, as worst forms of human rights abuses.

Osman and his counterpart from Europe Jean-Marie Rogue of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) attended the official EU and AU human rights dialogue, and briefed EU and AU top officials about the outcome of the civil society seminar, and called for intergovernmental backing to reverse the shrinking civil society space and the fight against torture.

The conclusions and recommendations by the civil society were formally welcomed by the African Union and European Union, and agreed to take practical actions in achieving recommendations from civil society.

The conclusion of the 7th civil society seminar will be presented at the Civil Society Conference in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, which will be held on the margins of the African Union and European Union member states summit next month.

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