Expert commends regional pact

THE Human rights adviser to the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) based in Bujumbura, Burundi, Dr. Isabell Kempf, has hailed the regional body’s efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights.

THE Human rights adviser to the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) based in Bujumbura, Burundi, Dr. Isabell Kempf, has hailed the regional body’s efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights.

Addressing a three-day meeting on human rights dimension of the ICGLR pact on security, stability and development at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Kempf said that the pact is the pinnacle of promoting and protecting human rights in the region.

She noted that it “constitutes an opportunity to encourage member states to ratify existing international and regional instruments.”

The ICGLR pact on security, stability and development entered into force in 2008.

“The pact is an opportunity to domesticate and implement its protocols on human rights issues which are urgent for the region and which constitutes a unique legal and political framework,” she added.

The pact includes creating conditions for security, stability, and sustainable development; providing a legal framework that governs relations between its 11 member states.

According to Dr. Kempf, member states have started meeting their obligations. She pointed out that apart from Angola, 10 of the 11 member states have ratified the pact of which the protocols are an integral part and, there is close collaboration between ICGLR and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN-OHCHR).

She acknowledged there have been challenges which include “the whole question of justice versus reconciliation – unlike Rwanda which has a Gacaca process and a national unity and reconciliation plan, other countries are still struggling”.

Joseph Kabakeza, the national coordinator of the ICGLR, said the government “takes human rights issues very seriously” as it has set up a related commission and conducted intensive awareness campaigns.

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