Cape Town – Last month, from 27-28 January 2022, African Parliamentarians Association for Human Rights (AfriPAHR) Steering Committee members came together in Cape Town, South Africa to deliberate and discuss the future direction of the network. The discussions include new strategic priorities to advance democracy and human rights for all, with a specific focus on freedom of religion or belief.

At the Annual meeting, Hon. Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, South Africa parliamentarian and AfriPAHR Steering Committee Chair said, ‘’ This is a very exciting chapter for the AfriPAHR network as we have now approved and adopted our three-year strategy. This foundational document will guide us to achieve our vision of an Africa where every person’s human rights are protected and where everyone can enjoy democracy and their right to freedom of religion or belief.’’

Hon. Angel Khanyile, South Africa parliamentarian added, ‘’The Strategy, with its three key objectives, cover work areas which AfriPAHR has been implementing to various degrees in the last few years. As part of this, competence-building of parliamentarians on relevant human rights issues is fundamental since we want our network members to be able to identify issues of concern and have enough resources and skills to be able to find sustainable solutions to them. Such problem-solving skills come from both trainings and experience sharing.’’

The two-day annual meeting was attended by six AfriPAHR Steering Committee parliamentarians from South Africa (Hon. Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, Hon. Angel Khanyile and Hon. Sibusiso Mncwabe), Malawi (Hon. Steven Baba Malondera Kamsiyamo), Nigeria (Hon. Markus Samuel), and Democratic Republic of Congo (Hon. Freddy Musambya).

The meeting was organized by AfriPAHR in partnership with the African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs (ACEPA), Accra, Ghana, and the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB), Oslo, Norway.

Hon. Steven Baba Malondera Kamsiyamo, Malawi parliamentarian said, ‘’This meeting has been both inspiring and motivating because I got the opportunity to be involved in the process of deciding the future of my network. Together with competence building, the strategic focus on strengthening advocacy on democracy and human rights will take us a step further towards achieving our vision. We plan on developing both public and private advocacy campaigns on relevant human rights issues, with a special focus on freedom of religion or belief. ‘’

‘’Amongst others, we plan to focus on aligning legislation, policy and discriminatory attitudes with human rights norms, which will involve collaborative efforts between parliamentarians and other relevant stakeholders at the national, regional and international level.’’, added Hon. Sibusiso Mncwabe, former South Africa parliamentarian.

‘’It is important that the decisions we took in today’s meeting continue to shape our long-term work in the region to improve the protection of everyone’s human rights. A vital aspect of achieving our goals is collaborating and working together with like-minded stakeholders, which can include government institutions, civil society organizations, academics and agencies such as the UN and its many organs. Such partnerships will not only help us grow as a network but also give individual members a sense of being part of something larger.’’, said Hon. Markus Samuel, Nigeria parliamentarian.

‘’There are many countries in the African region where human rights issues, especially those related to freedom of religion or belief, require our immediate attention. As a network, we must all work towards highlighting issues of concern, and work with other fellow parliamentarians, civil society and communities on the ground to counter discriminatory practices and societal biases that place some individuals and groups at risk.’’, said Hon. Freddy Musambya, Democratic Republic of Congo parliamentarian.  

The new AfriPAHR Strategy will soon be published on our website and other relevant platforms.

African Parliamentarians Association for Human Rights