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African human rights conference to held in JHB

11th November 2003

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Human rights representatives from more than ten African countries are to participate in a two-day conference in Johannesburg this week, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said yesterday.

It said the meeting, to be held under the auspices of the African National Human Rights Institutions (ANHRI) from today, would discuss ways of conducting effective human rights education programmes in the continent.

"The gathering will also look at ways of ensuring these institutions play a leading role in the establishment of practices that affirm human rights values and culture".

The SAHRC said the ANHRI has grown since its inception in 1996.

There were now about 28 human rights institutions on the continent and more were in the process of formation.

As a result of the phenomenal development on a continent that had, for many years, seen gross violations of human rights, there was a growing demand to ensure that these institutions had the necessary capacity to conduct effective human rights education and training programmes.

These institutions have wide mandates in their respective countries to address issues of human rights.

The SAHRC said the ANHRI would seek to interpret its mandates to address challenges such as HIV/Aids and the discrimination of vulnerable groups such as women and children.

"Traditionally, human rights education has generally focused on making people aware of their rights and building their knowledge of the various instruments and mechanisms available for the protection and promotion of human rights," the commission said.

"It has thus become imperative that each of these institutions has the capacity to deal with the protection and promotion of all rights recognised by international law as human rights".

African countries that would be represented at the conference include Morocco, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, Kenya, Ghana and Senegal.

The gathering would also be attended by other international bodies including non-governmental organisations from Canada and the UK. – Sapa.
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