Accra, Ghana
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) is an independent non-governmental organisation created to ensure the practical realisation of human rights in the countries of the Commonwealth. We push for an adherence to the Commonwealth's Harare Principles and the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. CHRI was established in 1987 after several Commonwealth countries voiced their concern about a lack of focus on Human rights within the Commonwealth organization. CHRI currently has three offices; in Delhi, London and Accra. The Africa office was opened in Accra in 2001 and is at the forefront of the fight to uphold basic human freedoms in the region. We work in three main areas of human rights: Human Rights Advocacy; Access to justice and The Right to Information.

Friday 27 May 2011

African Commonwealth Human Rights Weekly Update (21/05 - 27/05/2011)


Tuesday 24/05: Commonwealth Anti Corruption Conference:  Botswana played a host to a four day Commonwealth meeting on ways to combat corruption. In the opening speech Botswana’s President Seretse Khama Ian Khama stated that corruption is draining precious resources that could otherwise be used in public services like health and education.

Healthcare and education are known as “positive human rights”. Negative rights govern what the state cannot do to an individual (e.g arrest without charge), whilst positive rights require the state to assist citizens in achieving their rights (e.g providing a school so people can fulfill their right to education).

The rights of citizens to medical care and schooling is contained in Articles 12 and 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).


Monday 23/05: Malawi prepares for life without British Aid: Following the diplomatic row triggered last month by the government’s expulsion of the British ambassador, Fergus Cochrane-Dyet, the UK Department for International Development stated that aid to Malawi would be frozen while relations between the two countries are reviewed.

The aid freeze looks set to have a worrying impact on an economy that receives 40% of its annual budget from the donor community (20% of this aid comes from the UK).  Currently two-thirds of Malawi’s population live on less than $2 a day.


Monday 23/05: Chagossians Await the outcome of London conference: More than 150 exiled Chagos islanders gathered in London to campaign for their return to the Indian Ocean archipelago.

The islanders were forcibly evicted 40 years ago to make way for a US military base on the island of Diego Garcia. The base has come under criticism from the legal charity Reprieve which report that the base is being used for the detention of terrorism suspects.

Over the past decade, the islanders have embarked on a legal struggle for the right to return home. Three years ago, the House of Lords overturned the original high court decision that the islanders could return. The matter is now before the European Court of Human Rights.

The discussion has been complicated further following the British government's decision to declare the islands a marine protected area with a total fishing ban. A balance needs to be struck between the rights of the islanders and efforts at conservation.


Thursday 25/05: Commonwealth Observer report on Nigerian elections: Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma announced the release of the Commonwealth report on the April 2011 elections in Nigeria.

Mr Sharma commended the Nigerian authorities for conducting credible presidential and parliamentary elections. However, significant concerns were raised about the loss of lives before and during the electoral process.

Friday 27/05: Bushfire Boycott Gathers Pace: The Swaziland Solidarity Network announce that Caiphus Semenya, will not only boycott the forthcoming “Bushfire Festival” but will not be playing in Swaziland until the “country becomes democratic”. For more info on click on the link here.

“Deep House DJ”, “Black Coffee” and “Professor” have all also pulled out of performing.

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