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Meeting Centered on Human Rights in Africa held in Barcelona

For the first time, human rights were analysed from the voices of their actors, a fact made possible by the meeting organised by ADANE and CEA in Barcelona.

On April 7 and 8, the people who struggle daily for the respect for Human Rights in Africa met in Barcelona. The event was organised by ADANE (friends for the development of Africa) and the Centro de Estudios Africanos (Center for African Studies – CEA, by its Spanish acronym). According to Lola López, from CEA, “We have organised these forums to make known the network of Human Rights defenders in Western Africa and to approach the real situation that is being lived on this continent while giving a voice to its actors.”

These forums are part of a wider project that includes training workshops and meetings among members of the network, and have been made possible thanks to the support of the Catalan Agency for Cooperation Development, (ACCD, by its Spanish acronym.

One of the attractions of the meeting was to publicise the project undertaken by the Network of West African Human Rights Defenders, which “is an initiative of African men and women that is being developed on their own.” The network is made up of coalitions of 16 countries in the area. It promotes the protection and defence of human rights, as well as the rights of the people who defend them, especially women.

Among the participating members of the network, Abdoul Gadiry Diallo, journalist and president of the Network, and Diokgbéne Bomboma, Law Graduate and coordinator of ADANE international projects, stood out. During the final round table they shared with Alapini and with Elena Olivares, from the Oficina de la Paz de Cataluña (Cataluña peace office), they both stated that human rights, although universal, must be adapted to each African area. The debate was moderated by Antoni Castel, Professor of Communication Sciences of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB, by its Spanish acronym)

The absence, due to travel-related problems, of Estella Nelson, journalist and director of the Liberia Women Media Action Committee, was deplored. She will return in ten days after participating, together with the representatives of the network of defenders of Human Rights, in the tour they have planned. During the next few days, they will visit Madrid, Vitoria, Santander, La Coruña and Castellón, all cities where they will receive the backing of several entities and institutions.

Ramón Bartomeus, Resources Manager of also participated in the meeting and joined the debates.

The Rights of Women

The great contribution of these forums was that for the first time a group of defenders of human rights in Africa were the actors. This is why they were given the name of ‘From Africa for Africa’; they defend their own experiences and the work carried out by African entities, without the direct aid of European associations.

Reine Alapini –Gansou, one of the speakers, rightly highlighted the important role of women in the improvement of their countries, a fact that is little recognised in their own environment. This lawyer from Benin, who is a special commissioner for the defense of Human Rights in the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR), underlined that “we have not come to Europe in search of answers or specific aid for a cooperation program. It would be presumptuous to come and search for solutions to the problems faced by our continent. We wish to share our experience and appeal to the solidarity of the international community.”

Africa is a continent with very diverse, cultures, traditions and countries. And according to Alapini, “the poverty and the hardship of the everyday life of women compels us to work especially for their rights, which are violated frequently everywhere. Even recent democratic governments, in spite of having signed the Carta Magna, still repress them and do not respect their rights.” Also, according to Alapini, women still exhibit a very low level of political participation. “Very few women participate, only 20% of the population. Power continues to be held almost exclusively by the men,” remarks this defender of human rights.

More about: ngo , internet , human rights , africa
Translation by Marsha Wilkie
on 13/04/2008
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