JUSTICE ministers in the Great Lakes Region have adopted a resolution, calling upon countries to sign, ratify and strictly adhere to all international legal instruments on the protection of human rights and fight against impunity.
After their meeting in Nairobi, Kenya between May 13 and May 15, the ministers ex-commitment of their countries to combat crimes and called upon member states to domesticate provisions of the legal instruments and ensure domestic courts have jurisdiction, disseminate the instruments within domestic institutions and among the general population as well as raise awareness on the avenues of redress.
The ministers encouraged member states that have not yet ratified the protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights establishing the African Court for Human and Peoples’ Rights, to endorse the document.
The meeting, which Tanzanian Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Dr Augustine Mahiga (pictured) attended, pushed for harmonisation of national laws with the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) Protocol and United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crimes (UNTOC) and its protocols, to facilitate international cooperation on criminal matters.
The conference themed ‘Combating Impunity and Upholding Human Rights as Key Contributions to Peace and Security’ brought together member states—Tanzania, Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Zambia and the host Kenya. ICGLR is an inter-governmental organisation of the countries in the African Great Lakes Region.
Its establishment was based on the recognition of the considerable regional dimension of the political instability and conflicts in the countries, requiring concerted efforts to promote sustainable peace and development. Most notable among the conflicts that have had crossborder impacts or origins are the 1994 Rwandan genocide that led to the loss of over 800,000 lives and political instability in DRC.
The conflicts constituted a major threat to international peace and security. Its founding history began in 2000 when the UN Security Council, as stated in its resolutions 1291 and 1304, called for an International Conference on peace, security, democracy and development in the Great Lakes region. Later that year, the Secretariat of the International Conference was established in Nairobi, Kenya, under the umbrella of the United Nations and the African Union.
In November 2004, the 11 Heads of State and Government of the member countries unanimously adopted the Declaration on Peace, Security and Development in the Great Lakes region in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The Dar es Salaam Declaration presented the political statement with the intention to address the root causes of intractable conflicts and constraints to development in the regional and innovative approach.