African Human Rights Day being observed on Wednesday, representatives of various organizations urged to focus on health care, food, social protection to strengthen African societies.

“The Commemoration of the African Day of Human Rights is happening under difficult circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said African Union (AU) Commissioner for Political Affairs Cessouma Minata Samate while addressing a webinar.

She said the continent has displayed resilience and prevented the worst manifestation of the pandemic.

The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights came into force on Oct. 21, 1986. This date was thus declared the African Human Rights Day, according to the AU website.

“Under article 30 of the African Charter, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) was established as an enforcement mechanism for the African Charter. The ACHPR is composed of eleven commissioners, nationals of the member states of the African Union elected in their individual capacity,” says the website.

Solomon Ayele Derso, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on Human and Peoples Rights said in 2020, the day is being celebrated in an extraordinary circumstance owing to COVID-19.

“It disrupted the living of our societies with huge consequences. The Pandemic highlights pervasive poverty and inequalities,” he said.

He also said that the virus exposed deep structural weaknesses of the societies.

“How can one who lacks water for handwashing comply with COVID-19 requirements?” he asked. He urged governments to make sure that citizens access necessities including health and social protection.

He also highlighted police actions in the continent, saying more people have been killed in by law enforcement agencies than the pandemic.

“We have a very serious problem of police brutality, “he said.

These brutalities led to the loss of lives and injuries, worsening the vulnerability and fragility of African societies.

Derso called on governments to approach the issues of human rights with urgency and seriousness.

The Day was commemorated with a theme: Africa Human Rights Day: Building Back Better.

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