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04.02.2005 General News

"Shadow Review" report on APRM launched

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Accra, Feb. 4, GNA - Seven African Non-Governmental Research Organizations under the umbrella of African Human Security Initiative (AHSI) on Thursday launched a "Shadow Review" report on the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).

The "Shadow Report" seeks to measure the level of compliance of eight out of the 24 African governments, which acceded to the APRM monitoring system.

The Leaders pledged their commitment to adhere to the promotion of human rights, upholding the tenets of democracy and good governance, civil society engagement, fight the proliferation of small arms, undertake anti-corruption measures, control of crime and terrorism, adopt potent conflict resolution mechanisms as well as the use of modern militarism in peacekeeping operations.

The eight African countries were, Ghana, Algeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda.

Launching the report in Accra, Mr Emmanuel Sowatey, Research Fellow of the African Security Dialogue and Research (ASRD), said even though none of the countries monitored had clean human rights records, Senegal and South Africa recorded the best whilst Algeria, Ethiopia, Uganda and Nigeria were the worse violators. Ghana and Kenya fell within the two groups.

He said the research revealed that all the states reviewed still had hurdles to overcome if they wanted to show sincere commitment to the promotion, protection and guarantee of human rights within the contest of the APRM framework.

Mr Sowatey described as encouraging the willingness of some governments to create national institutions to address human rights problems and the increased willingness to prosecute human right violators, who were mainly State actors.

In relation to democracy and governance, Mr Sowatey said a relatively clear picture was built over the course of the review, "there is an obvious difference between Ghana, Kenya, Senegal and South Africa on one hand and Algeria, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Uganda on the other hand."

Mr Sowatey said in Algeria and Nigeria, the role of the military remained central for understanding the political dynamics of the country, while the Ethiopian and Ugandan political Leadership lacked democratic credibility.

The ASDR Research Fellow said the report identified that for the process of democratisation to grow in Algeria, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Uganda, their Leaders must demonstrate and adhere to the tenets of democracy, "unless this is done the recent democratic gains could easily be lost".

The report also cited the vital role of government and opposition political parties, media and civil society groups, judges and lawyers, the military for democracy to grow strong roots in all eight countries. On civil society engagement, the report noted that apart from South Africa and Ethiopia, civil society engagement in the other six countries had gone through a period of alienation and re-engagement.

The media was identified as a crucial partner for development, democratisation, popular participation and the expression of pluralism. While they operated freely in Ghana and South Africa, they were partly free in Uganda, Nigeria, and Senegal. Media freedom is constrained in Ethiopia, Algeria and Kenya.

Conflicts and poverty were identified as good breeding grounds for terrorism and organized crime, while mechanism to control the laundering of the proceeds of organized crime in general were in their infancy. Progress in this area seems to be hindered by continued preoccupation with autonomy and sovereignty.

Mr Sowatey said the study revealed that Small Arms and Light Weapons continued to be one of the greatest challenges to human security.

On peacekeeping and conflict resolution, he said, "there are clear violations in the level of state of compliance to the agreed commitments by Heads of State and Governments under the APRM systems. "Kenya, Algeria and South Africa's preclusion of the use of force sharply contracts with the actions of other states. While Ghana and to a large extent Senegal and Nigeria have generally avoided the use of force, Uganda and Ethiopia are yet to achieve compliance with the African Union Constitutive Act."

On early warning, the study revealed that most of the countries have narrowed their interpretation to the protection and holding on to political power against coups.

Mr K. B. Quantson, a Board Member of the ASDR, launched the report at a function, which was attended by Civil Society Organizations, Media Practitioners, Parliamentarians, Mmembers of the National Africa Peer Review Mechanism and a cross-section of the public.

ASDR of Ghana, South Africa Institute for International Affairs; Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa; Southern Africa Human Rights Trust; African Peace Forum; Institute for Security Studies and the West African Network for Peace, undertook the study, which was sponsored by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID).

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