Civil society is deeply concerned about reports of shrinking civic space, attacks on freedom of expression, rising militarisation, and ongoing communication disruptions in Sudan, threatening the work of women human rights defenders and women’s rights groups. Read ISHR's and other NGOs' calls to action in the joint letter below.
Chaired by Commissioner Litha Musyimi-Ogana, the panel, entitled ‘Communities Discriminated on Work and Descent in Africa: Confronting Racism, Xenophobia, and Discrimination of Migrants in Africa,’ brought together individuals dedicated to the cause of human rights and equality. The event served as an essential platform for highlighting the issues of discrimination and modern-day slavery on the African continent.
At the outset of the discussion, Musyimi-Ogana announced the forthcoming release of a pivotal report: the ‘Communities Discriminated on Work and Descent in Africa Status of Modern-Day Slavery,’ a study exploring the role of caste and analogous identity communities in slavery and slavery-like practices within the continent.
Former Commissioner and Special Rapporteur on Refugee, Migrants, and Internally Displaced Persons, Maya Sahli Fadel, highlighted that a substantial proportion of the migration of Africans occurs within the continent, also known as South-South migration, with only a minority attempting the perilous Mediterranean crossing to reach Europe.
‘Migration within Africa is fraught with numerous challenges, including forced displacement, transit through multiple countries, and varying treatment upon arrival,’ pointed out Sahli Fadel.
She continued by highlighting the rise of extremist ideologies and the criminalisation of migrants resulting from States closing borders in the name of national security. ‘There is a pressing need to uphold the rights of migrant workers, as defined by UN conventions, and draw attention to cases such as Tunisia, where governmental actions have violated the rights of migrants,’ she noted.
The panel discussion continued with Musa Juma, the Executive Director of Media Aid, highlighting the use of digital platforms to bring attention to the challenges faced by marginalised communities, including issues related to climate change and economic discrimination.
‘The global issue of discrimination and slavery, including child labour and human trafficking, calls for collaboration among networks and communities to combat these grave violations,’ asserted Ibrahim Sall, a human rights defender from Senegal. He called for the establishment of a mechanism that would investigate these human rights atrocities, aiming to accurately represent the experiences of affected communities.
The panel was also joined by N. Paul Divakar, the Global Convenor of the Global Forum of Communities Discriminated on Work and Descent in India, recognising the urgency of addressing stigma and discrimination through collective action and urging African countries to commit to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to eradicate all forms of discrimination and slavery.
During the panel discussion, participants raised awareness about discrimination and land grabbing faced by marginalised communities as well as the need to support local NGOs working on Indigenous land rights and combating human trafficking. It was clear that the commitment of individuals and organisations is key to achieving positive change.
The African Commission holds the potential to catalyse the change needed to protect the rights and dignity of all individuals, regardless of their work or descent. It is imperative that these conversations translate into tangible solutions, reflecting the values of equality, justice, and human rights enshrined in the African Charter for Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights concluded its 77th Ordinary Session held in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania from 20 October to 9 November 2023. During the session, the Commission renewed its Bureau. It received solemn declarations from elected and re-elected members and launched several documents and newsletters, among others.
Civil society calls for an appropriate response from the Human Rights Council by establishing an independent international monitoring mechanism to undertake a global investigation into deaths, enforced disappearances, torture and other grave human rights violations faced by people in transit across international borders.