During each ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (‘The African Commission’), Commissioners present their activity reports which provides an overview of the work done in between two sessions. On 23 November 2021, the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and Focal point on reprisals presented his report.
The Portuguese-Speaking Human Rights Platform (PLUDH), composed by NGOs from Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe, is established as a collective action space of the Portuguese-speaking African countries. It aims to promote the defense of human rights, its defenders and civic space in those countries, through the human rights mechanisms and systems of the African Union. The platform also seeks to strengthen the capacity of defenders in advocacy and strategic litigation in these countries when necessary. The establishment of this platform arises to respond to the deficit that exists in those countries in the utilisation of African mechanisms and interaction with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (‘the African Commission) in the advancement of the protection, defense and promotion of human rights.
The panel was moderated by the Chairperson of the African Commission and Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Remy Ngoy Lumbu, who welcomed the establishment of this platform and encouraged them to proactively engage with the African Commission. “I am happy to have been able to participate and contribute to the establishment of the platform and hope that this will help give visibility to the violations defenders from lusophone countries face in Africa,” said Ngoy Lumbu.
Emílio José Manuel, Member of the Steering Committee of the NGO Forum and Focal point of the platform, emphasised the lack of use of regional human rights mechanisms such as the African Commission by civil society in Portuguese speaking countries. There are many challenges at the national level in guaranteeing and protecting human rights, especially education, health and social services protection.
In his remarks, Prof. Adriano Alfredo Nuvunga, Consultant and Member of the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network, mentioned the work being done by the platform towards the adoption of an action plan for the period 2022-2025 and emphasised that this platform is a space that will allow interaction between NGOs from the Portuguese speaking countries with the mechanisms of the African Union, especially in the protection of defenders.
To conclude, the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders reiterated his willingness to further engage with the newly established platform on the protection of defenders in the countries it covers.
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