October 21 was proclaimed “African Human Rights Day” to commemorate the entry into force of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 1986. Recognizing the indivisibility of all human rights, the African Charter remains the premier instrument for the promotion and protection of human rights in the continent.
To mark the occasion, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) hosted a webinar that brought together dignitaries from amongst others the African Union’s (AU) human rights bodies, the AU Commission, CSOs and media, against the backdrop of major reforms being undertaken by EHRC, and persistent human rights challenges in Ethiopia.
Daniel Bekele, Chief Commissioner of EHRC, identified as one priority the need to bolster engagement and collaboration with Africa’s human rights bodies and mechanisms .
“EHRC notes that the AU regional human rights bodies are crucial partners that can provide wide-ranging technical advice and expertise, particularly at this time when the institution is restructuring and redefining its priorities,” he said in his introductory remarks.
“Africa’s human rights bodies supplement national checks and balances mechanisms, providing citizens with an additional layer of protection.”
Cessouma Minata Samate, the African Union Commission’s Commissioner of Political Affairs, commended EHRC for organizing the webinar to celebrate African Human Rights Day.
“The organisation of this event serves as an example for other national human rights institutions ,” she said, speaking on behalf of Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
The webinar also provided an opportunity for Ethiopian civil society organizations to enhance their engagement with the regional human rights bodies.
In addition to Samate, participating dignitaries included Mudford Zachariah Mwandenga, Country-Rapporteur for the Human Rights Situation in Ethiopia at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Hermine Gatsing Kembo, Country-Rapporteur for the Human Rights Situation in Ethiopia at the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and representatives from the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Inter-Governmental Authority for Development, and the Federal Attorney General’s Office, as well as the media.