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Africa is experiencing the highest increase in the number of older persons’ population. Most of them are living longer with valuable capacities but with vulnerabilities too. Yet older person’s rights are neither recognised nor valued, and often suffer from abuse, assaults and even murder at the hands of those who should support and protect them. Older persons are often accused of witchcraft, blamed for misfortunes such as sudden deaths, HIV/AIDS, traffic accidents and even the weather. They are denied opportunities for employment, they have restricted access to land and property, and lack adequate legal protection. Older women in particular bear more risks due to the intersectionality of their age as well as other aspects such as gender, disability and poverty. This is due to the lack of policies or legal frameworks that can protect the rights of older people in the majority of African countries. 

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria and the Southern African Miners Association (SAMA) (comprised of the undersigned organisations), are gravely concerned by the recently published SADC Regional COVID-19 Response Report – Bulletin 2 which omitted to set out clear guidelines on how older persons right to health should be protected during national lockdowns. This is particularly alarming considering the vulnerability of older persons to COVID-19. This susceptibility is further heightened for older persons who used to work in the mines with pre-existing occupational lung diseases and weakened immune systems due to ageing. Without a clear regional response that involves working together across communities, organisations and countries, which targets the protection of the most vulnerable, the spread and minimisation of the virus cannot be suppressed.

The Women’s Rights Unit at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, has intensified its call for the ratification of the Protocol to African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa (Older Persons Protocol) through a series of advocacy initiatives targeting African Union member states.

At a memorable advocacy meeting organised by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, in collaboration with the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, and HelpAge International, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Ms Pholile P. Shakantu, speaking on behalf of the Deputy Prime Minister, Senator Themba Masuku, committed to the ratification of both the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa (Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons) and Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa (Protocol on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities).

On 6 June 2019, the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, held an advocacy meeting on the ratification of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa (Older Persons Protocol) in Liberia. The event was held in collaboration with HelpAge International, the Global Alliance, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Gender to sensitise Liberia on the Older Persons Protocol and urge them to ratify it. The meeting was held at the Golden Key Hotel, Monrovia. This forms part of the Centre’s ongoing #AgeWithRights campaign to enhance the protection of older persons, focusing specifically on the rights of older women.

The Centre for Human Rights (the Centre), University of Pretoria, calls on the South African government to enhance the protection for older persons; and to ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa (Protocol on Older Persons).

The Women’s Rights Unit of the Centre for Human Rights was involved in various activities at the 63rd ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights which is currently been held in Banjul, The Gambia from 24 October to 7 November 2018. The session was preceded by the NGO Forum and 37th African Human Rights Book Fair, which took place from 20 to 22 October 2018.

"It’s time for Africa to commit to protect the rights of older persons”

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, in partnership with HelpAge Global Network in Africa and Moremi Initiative for Women’s Leadership in Africa, on 9 August 2018 organised a Policy Dialogue with Key Government Institutions including the African Union Social Affairs Department responsible for coordination and ratification of the African Union Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Older Persons (Protocol) on 8 August 2018 and a regional expert meeting for West Africa on the theme “Human rights of older women in West Africa: The need for enhanced protection”. 

pdf#AgeWthRights Press Statement

Alongside the activities of the 27th African Human Rights Moot Court, the Centre for Human Rights is engaging in advocacy to advance the rights of older persons, with a specific focus on older women, in Ghana. The Centre’s Women’s Rights Unit campaign, #AgeWithRights, in partnership with HelpAge International and the Moremi Initiative, hosted an advocacy meeting on 8 August to discuss Ghana’s ratification of the Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons.

Download this invitation

In celebration of National Women’s Day in South Africa, the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, in collaboration with the Department of Library Services, cordially invites you to the screening of the award-winning documentary ‘The Witches of Gambaga’ by Yaba Badoe.