In wake of celebrations marking African Human Rights Day, activists are mobilising to fight corruption, one of the greatest menace the continent is confronted with. They used Sunday the platform of the ongoing Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 63rd Ordinary Session of the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) to warn of the ‘erosive effects’ corruption continues to have on the continent economy.
“I believe that we must all the time link human rights and corruption in Africa. Money for constructing roads, which has been stolen, has to be traced so that the road can be built,” he told this reporter during an exclusive interview.
A 2017 Index released in February this year by Transparency International described that the majority of African countries are moving too slowly in the fight to end corruption. Far more disturbing, the index results also indicates that countries with the lowest protections for press and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are most likely bent to have the worst rates of corruption.
Falana deplored that money meant for education and health often continues to be diverted by people through ‘dubious scheme’, undermining development efforts.
“We must now ensure that we strengthen our legal system to be able to checkmate impunity in our continent,” he added.
Last month, Justice Ministers from West Africa and Sahel endorsed the Niamey Declaration in Niger, re-echoeing their adherence to AU, ECOWAS, and international instruments relating to governance, democracy, justice, human rights and rule of law. They also expressed their resolve to end impunity.
Advocate Falana further stated that those who are loothing the meager resources of our countries should be prosecuted and jailed.
He deplored the fact that only few countries in Africa are fighting corruption. Falana also took a swipe at non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
“NGOs are not doing well. There is no way you can sit in air-conditioned offices and fight corruption and impunity,” he remarked.
The renowned campaigner suggested that they should move out from their ivory tower and link up with people, union workers, women organisations and traditional civil society groups so that they will be the defenders of their life.
“What is preventing NGOs to mobilize a particular community that would benefit from the national budget to go to the National Assembly and ask questions when it is tabled?,” he quizzed.
Amnesty International’s Director for West and Central Africa, Alioune Tine, said it is high time to move from solemn declaration to action.
“Do we have the political will? Corruption is a cancer affecting our societies. To deal with such a threat, there must be a functioning State,” he emphasized.
Hannah Forster of African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS) challenged civil society groups, urging them to play their role, and do more sensitisation.
She also disclosed that statistics about corruption have indicated that women are the most affected as they bear the brunt of injustice.
More than 200 NGOs are taking part in the forum, which will adopt resolutions addressing human rights issues raised during the three-day conclave
Written by Abdoulie JOHN
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