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Injustices against indigenous people worry AU judiciaries

FILE PHOTO: AU judiciaries

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | African judiciaries are concerned at the laxity of African governments to addressing historical injustices facing indigenous groups in the Continent.

They say a number of the injustices suffered by indigenous communities are yet to be addressed. The concern was expressed by the plenary of the African Union Judiciaries meeting at the Fourth African Judicial Dialogue at the Commonwealth Resort Munyonyo in Kampala.

Several experts at the dialogue recommended empowerment of the indigenous communities to better participate in judicial processes, enjoyment of their rights and human dignity.

Justice Angelo Vasco Matusse an official from the African Court on Human and People’s rights said that countries need to implement affirmative actions for training of the judicial officials from the African Indigenous Communities.

“When we train magistrates, we get closer and understand their terminologies for integration into our law books. This way we can address the historical injustices around them” said Matusse.

The panellists who were discussing development and rights of the indigenous people in Africa identifies some of the historical injustices as land dispossession, inequality and discrimination among others.

Dr Elifuraha Laltaika a representative of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues in Africa criticized African governments for ratifying International Human Rights Instruments without addressing the historical injustices against the indigenous.

He said that the various violations of the rights of indigenous people contravenes Article 17 of the African Charter on Human and People’s rights.  The said Article provides for the promotion and protection of economic and cultural rights of all people.

Professor Issa Diallo from the University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso reiterated that training judicial officers from indigenous groups will amplify the human rights issues of those marginalized groups on the continent.

He advised that special courts be set up to adjudicate on human rights violations and abuses of the Indigenous people who are unable to easily access the African Courts on Human and People’s Right in Arusha.

In Uganda, some of the indigenous groups include the Ik People, the Batwa, the Banyabindi in Kasese and the Benet, Basongora and the Karimojong

Early this year, the Equal Opportunities Commission decided that the rights of the Banyabindi were abused in many ways after they were pushed out of their land for the establishment of Queen Elizabeth National Parks.

The ruling directed government to resettle the group, grant them equal opportunities in public services and implement affirmative actions to better their living conditions.

Government has a year to implement the recommendations of the hearing.

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