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.
The Older Persons Protocol, which was adopted in 2016, aims to strengthen regional protection for the rights of older persons, providing an opportune moment for older persons to enjoy their full rights and freedoms on an equal basis with other population groups. However, as of December 2019, only two countries have ratified the Protocol; Lesotho and Benin. Fifteen ratifications are needed for the Protocol to come into force and become instrumental for the advancement of the rights of older persons. This challenge has given birth to the Centre for Human Rights #AgeWithRights Campaign to push for the ratification of the Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons.
African Regional High-level Conference on the Human Rights of Older Persons in Africa
On 25 and 26 November 2019, the Women’s Rights Unit, participated in the African Regional High-level Conference on the Human Rights of Older Persons in Africa, which was held in Abuja, Nigeria. The Conference was aimed at strengthening the protection of the human rights of older persons. The Conference was organised by the Stakeholder Group on Ageing in Africa (SGA) in partnership with the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria. One of the goals of the conference was to engage the ECOWAS Parliament and to build consensus among the parliamentarians and member states on the need to ratify the Older Persons Protocol for standardised protection of the rights of older persons through a regional and international legally binding instrument. The conference provided an opportunity for the Centre for Human Rights to address the ECOWAS Parliament and call for the ratification of the Older Persons Protocol.
Mauritius commits to the ratification
In the same week, on 27 November 2019, the Women’s Rights Unit was in Mauritius, hosting and advocacy meeting for the ratification of the Older Persons Protocol.
Reaffirming the Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) mantra ‘To Leave No One Behind’, the Republic of Mauritius has taken vital step towards ensuring the respect, promotion and protection of the rights of older persons by committing to the ratification of the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons. Consequently, in an advocacy meeting organised by the Women’s Rights Unit in Mauritius, in collaboration with the Mauritius Family Planning and Welfare Association (MFPWA) and HelpAge International, the Honourable Minister of National Infrastructure and Community Development, Mr Mahendranath S. Hurreeram, made a strong commitment towards the ratification of the Older Persons Protocol by the Government of Mauritius. This was supported by an announcement that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has started the process of ratification. In his speech, the Minister highlighted the importance placed on the welfare of older persons in Mauritius, noting that Mauritius has been proactive in addressing the challenges of the growing ageing population in the country and the resultant socio-economic implications. Herein, Mauritius has put laws and policy interventions in place to better protect the rights of older persons and in turn harness the demographic divided of this population group.
Nonetheless, cases of elder abuse and neglect still prevail alongside inequalities in access to resources, most especially for older persons living in Rodriguez. This is a pressing challenge that the government of Mauritius is working to address. Thus, ratification of the Older Persons Protocol is needed to strengthen legal protection for the rights of older persons and empower them to champion their own rights, complementing other national strategies by the government and providing redress for the violation of the rights of older persons at national and regional level.
In conclusion, the Centre continues to call on African Union member states to ratify Older Persons Protocol for the benefit of older persons across the region.
Visit the #AgeWith Rights website for more information on the campaign
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