African States: Freedom of association and assembly is a human right

08.04.2016

(Banjul, The Gambia) - The NGO Forum preceding the session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (the African Commission) held a panel on the right to freedom of association and assembly (FOAA). The event focused on the recent report published by the African Commission on freedom of association and assembly in Africa and the recent adopted resolution tasking the study group on freedom of Association to draft a guidelines on the same issue.

(Banjul, The Gambia) - The NGO Forum preceding the session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (the African Commission) held a panel on the right to freedom of association and assembly (FOAA). The event focused on the recent report published by the African Commission on freedom of association and assembly in Africa and the recent adopted resolution tasking the study group on freedom of Association to draft a guidelines on the same issue.

In his opening remarks, the moderator of the panel Clément Voule presented the history of the study group on FOAA established by the African commission and the work done so far. ‘This report is a big achievement of the African Commission and needs to be disseminated,’ said Emerson Sykes from the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) speaking on behalf of the Study Group. 

He invited all stakeholders to use the report in their training and advocacy work by citing its provisions. He added that the Study Group is in the process of holding a series of consultations with all stakeholders to gather inputs and comments to the draft guidelines. 

Michael Power and Karim Medhat of the International Network of Civil Liberties organisations, the use of crowd-control weapons (CCWs) has the impact on FOAA and need to be addressed by the Guidelines. The presentation by the two panelists illustrated that in the recent years, there has been a rise in the number of popular protests in which people have taken to the streets to express grievances and claim their rights. In many cases, police and security forces have responded in ways that profoundly undermine the fundamental rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, often leading to escalations in violence through unwarranted, inappropriate, or disproportionate uses of force. Law enforcement throughout the world is increasingly responding to popular protests with crowd-control weapons (CCWs).

Giving the example of Uganda, Pepe Oziembe from the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project said that the rights to freedom of association and assembly were curtailed during the election period in Uganda, particularly for political activists. 

‘The 2013 Public Order Management Act and the recently adopted NGO bill undermine the enjoyment of the rights to Freedom of Association and Assembly in Uganda,’ he said.

The panel concluded by echoing the need for the development of such guidelines on FOAA in Africa in order to assist Member States and all stakeholders to improve the current status quo.

‘The inputs gathered by the study group during this panel will be fed into the process of the elaboration of these guidelines,’ said Clément Voule, member of the Study group and chair of the panel.

Contact: Mr Clément Voule, ISHR Africa Advocacy Director, c.voule@ishr.ch

 

Category:

Region
  • Africa
Topic
  • Human rights defenders
  • NGOs
  • Reprisals and intimidation
Mechanism
  • African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
Country
  • Uganda