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African Court marks International Women’s Day in Arusha

Wednesday, 16 March 2016 07:41
Arusha, 12 March, 2016:   The President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Hon. Justice Augustino S. L. Ramadhani, has called for an increased access of African women to the courts
and justice systems to seek remedies for the enforcement of their fundamental human rights.
 
Opening a one-day seminar to mark the 2016 International Women’s Day, at the premises of the African Court, the former Tanzanian Chief Justice also stressed the need for legal aid for women. “Establishing a legal aid scheme will enable more women victims seek redressing in the courts’’ he said.
 
The occasion was also used as part of activities to mark the 10th Anniversary of the African Court and celebration of 2016 as African Year of Human Rights with focus on the rights of women.
The President commended the impact of the AU’s Maputo Protocol on the women rights in Africa.
‘’The Maputo Protocol is a milestone instrument on the Rights of women in Africa,’’ he told over 100 delegates, which included Judges, Court Officers, NGOs, human rights activists, students and media, among others.
 

The Chair and Moderator of the Seminar, the Vice-President of the African Court, Hon. Lady Justice Elsie Thompson, speaking to the theme of the Seminar ‘’The Rights of Women under the Maputo Protocol and accessing the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights’’, decried early marriages, saying that it compromised development and often resulted into early pregnancies and social isolation.
 
‘’More than 700 million people alive today were married as children. South Asia and Africa account for 48 per cent and 42 percent respectively of child marriages worldwide,’’ stated the Nigerian Supreme Court Judge.
 
She further added that all African countries are faced with a challenge of child marriage, a harmful traditional practice that robbed girls of their education, health and future.
 
‘’If we do not act now, the number of girls married as children will double by 2050 and Africa will become the region with the highest number of child brides in the world,’’ she warned.
 
To fight early child marriages, she counselled, African governments must support services that enable girls to access information on sexual and productive health.
 
‘’At the same time, African states will need to review their legal systems to ensure there are no weaknesses to allow the continuation of early child marriages,’’ Insisted Justice Thompson.
 
The Chairman of Tanganyika Law Society (Arusha Chapter), Mr Modest Akida, encouraged its members to provide pro bono legal assistance to help women to fight for their rights in the society. “By doing so, we will be of much help to Tanzanian women to access the courts, and more so to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights’’ the rights advocate said.
 
Other invited Tanzanian women Judges and Magistrates and women rights organisations in their separate presentations urged the government to speedily review laws which undermine women and deprive their rights.
 
They called for stepped-up awareness campaigns and information dissemination to reverse the trend.
 

NOTES FOR EDITORS:
 
The African Court was established by virtue of Article 1 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
 
The Protocol was adopted on 9 June 1998 in Burkina Faso and came into force on 25 January 2004.The Court officially started its operations in November 2006.
 
The AU is made up of 54 Member States.
Further information can be obtained from the Court’s website at www.african-court.org.
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