President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called on Africans to continuously strive for respect for human rights
The President made the call last Monday when he addressed the opening ceremony of the 27th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition at the University of Ghana.
In attendance were Law students from universities in Africa who argued out cases on human rights, especially the rights of older people.
Tracing the history of human rights across the world, the President said the fight for freedom that animated the colonised people of Africa in the 20th century served as an impetus to advance the cause of human rights and the fight for dignity in human history.
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He said it behoved the current generation, who are beneficiaries of that struggle for freedom, to ensure that respect for human rights was woven into the fabric of politics in Africa.
Spread of democracy
President Akufo-Addo noted that in 1981, the erstwhile Organisation of African Unity (OAU) adopted the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the same as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
He said the rise and spread of democracy in Africa indicated that the continuous strengthening and protection of institutions and the culture of democratic governance was achieved by respecting human rights.
Those rights, he said, included religious freedom, individual liberties, rights of women and minorities and a deepening attachment to the freedom of expression, including media freedom that ensured accountability in governance.
According to him, the current generation had the duty to uphold the principles of democratic accountability, the rule of law, respect for human rights and individual liberties which formed the bedrock of national, regional and continental development and prosperity.
“We must, with passion and commitment, uphold our individual and collective responsibilities and contribute proactively towards the greater good of society,” he added.
The President urged the participants not to be concerned with the education alone but also help trigger the necessary political will in their respective countries for a deepening of the culture of respect for human rights.
He described the competition as the biggest gathering of judges, lawyers and students and advised the students to take advantage of the occasion to network and make friends as Africans.
He noted that Ghana won last year’s competition held in Mauritius and was committed to hosting and winning this year’s competition too.
The Dean of the School of Law of the University of Ghana, Legon, Prof. Kofi Quashigah, commended President Akufo-Addo for his commitment to Law education and development in Ghana and particularly for showing a personal interest in having the competition held successfully in Ghana.
He recounted how the President, then a practising lawyer many years ago, had put his knowledge at the service of the university as a guest lecturer teaching Courts and Legal Systems in Ghana.