11 December 2012

Africa: Human Rights' Day Marked World-Wide

December 10th, Human Rights' Day, is celebrated every year in commemoration of the UN General Assembly's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10th in 1948.

The theme this year was 'Inclusion and the Right to Participate in Public Life.' UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon in a message said that "International law is clear: No matter who you are, or where you live, your voice counts...On this Day, let us unite to defend your right to make it heard." The Secretary-General said there had been "undeniable" progress over the past century along the path of inclusion, but far too many groups and individuals still faced obstacles.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, saluted all those who have suffered so much seeking what is rightfully theirs, saying that "we have a voice, we have our rights and we want to participate in the way our societies and economies are run." The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous noted that: "Human rights teams are integrated into our large peacekeeping missions...they are focussed on protecting and promoting human rights in countries emerging from conflict and histories of large scale abuses", adding that "just as importantly, they help build national capacities and institutions so that the people of these countries can work to protect and promote human rights for the long term.

"As part of the celebrations in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission organized a Panel Discussion in the West Gojam Prison Administration, to launch its report on: "Human Rights Protection Monitoring in Ethiopian Prison Report". The presentation was followed by discussion of the report. In Somalia, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, Mr. Mohamat Annadif, underlined AMISOM's commitment to the protection of the rights of the Somali people: "A secure environment free of hunger, violence and intimidation is a necessary precondition for the full enjoyment of human rights. AMISOM is today helping the Somali government and security forces create such an environment [confronting] those who would wish to deny freedom and liberty to the Somali people," he said.

He also noted that AMISOM was working to improve awareness and understanding of human rights within the Somali security forces: "Respect for human rights is a fundamental aspect of our training efforts as we work to build up the capacity of the Somali national security forces," he said. At a ceremony held at Mogadishu's main airport, attended by top government and UN officials.

Speaking at the ceremony, Somalia's Information, Post and Telecommunication Minister, Abdullahi Elmoge Hirsi, paid tribute to the 18 journalists killed in Somalia this year.

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