By MUHAMMED Sailu BAH
The executive Director of the Institute of Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA), Gaye Sowe said that for development to be effective, duty bearers must exercise a sense of transparency, accountability, fairness and responsibility.
He made this statement during his deliberation at the Human Rights NGOs on the 57th Ordinary Session of the African Commission at the Kairaba beach Hotel.
He noted that a lot of African countries are well known for election malpractices, corruption, embezzlement and mismanagement of state resources, political instability and armed conflicts during which Human right abuses are widespread.
“Impunity in favour of prominent personalities, etc and the face of these set backs, governments are often poised to crack down on any individual or organisation that dares to speak out,” he posited.
Mr. Sowe noted that without adequate checks and balances on the use of power, the governance of the state remains vulnerable to elite capture and influenced by vested power interests while the grassroots masses, rural poor of various categories are marginalised and the majority continue to wallow in dejection, oppression, exploitation, injustice and frustration.
He said it is through this that all actors and stakeholders have a greater role to play such as the Civil Society organisations, Human Rights defenders and the Media.
He also noted that civil society and the media have the greatest role to amplify the voices of the poor, to influence government policies, challenge injustice and hold government to account.
Mr. Gaye highlighted that it is indeed a greater challenge for the Media practitioners and civil organizations in Africa, because they are seen by people in power as threats to National Security.
He further noted that governments associate Human right defenders with Terrorism, and use legislative, judicial and extra-legal measures to clamp down on them.
He also took note that some African governments have begun to come to terms with the fact that Civil Society, Human Rights defenders are assets and not liabilities in developing the continent.
“It is therefore vital for states to create enabling environment for the work of Human rights and civil society actors. An enabling environment for the work of human rights defenders is essential for the promotion and protection of Human rights and the rule of law. It is vital that defenders working on the ground are at the fore front of international discussions about maintaining civil society space,” he remarked.