Accra, Ghana, November 14, 2023 – The Speaker of the Ghana Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin launched the Ghana Parliamentary Caucus on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) in Accra on Monday, November 13, 2023. Members of the Ghana Caucus were joined at the event by delegations from the Parliamentary FoRB Caucuses from Malawi, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia. Also in attendance were Faith Leaders from Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Ghana as well as some Civil Society representatives and the Media.
The Caucus launch was organised under the auspices of the African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs’ partnership with the International Panel of Parliamentarians on Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB), the Freedom of Religion or Belief Leadership Network (FoRBLN) and the African Parliamentarians Network on Human Rights (AfriPAHR). The launch discussed the purpose of having a caucus in parliament that supports and champions issues of religion or belief and human rights in general, the challenges of dealing with such issues as well as the role such a caucus will play in ensuring that the rights of citizens are safeguarded and respected at all times.
In his keynote address, the Speaker reiterated the need to be tolerant of each other irrespective of one’s religion. Encouraging people present to not force others to believe in things they are not interested in, Speaker Bagbin, quoting George Carlin, noted that: “Religion is like a pair of shoes…. Find one that fits for you, but don’t make me wear your shoes.” He maintained his stance on Freedom of Religion or Belie and strongly advocated for the inclusion of women into the FoRB space as they are leaders themselves.
The highlight of the event was the signing of the Accra Charter on FoRB. The Executive Director of ACEPA – Dr. Rasheed Draman – read out the Charter to members present before they appended their signatures.
By signing the Charter, members present committed themselves to achieving the following laudable objectives:
● Promote Freedom of Religion for all persons through their work and respective institutions.
● Enhance global cooperation by endeavouring to work across geographical, political religious lines.
● Undertake efforts to jointly promote Freedom of Religion or Belief, share information, and mobilise effective responses.
● Support appropriate initiatives that advance Freedom of Religion or Belief for women and young people.
● Identify and support future parliamentarians and faith leaders who show a commitment to Freedom of Religion or Belief.
Benedicta Naa Odarkor Ablateye, Communications Officer ACEPA- email@example.com Ibrahim Maida Inusah, Project Officer ACEPA – Ibrahim.firstname.lastname@example.org
About the organizers:
The African Parliamentarians Association for Human Rights (AfriPAHR) is an independent, non-partisan network of parliamentarians from the African continent that works to advance democracy, freedom of religion or belief and human rights to build a fairer and inclusive Africa, through diplomacy and fostering strategic alliances between nations.
International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB) is a global network of parliamentarians and legislators from around the world committed to combating religious persecution and advancing freedom of religion or belief, as defined by Article 18 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. IPPFoRB focuses on growing a diverse and collaborative global network and building the capacity of parliamentarians to act as agents of change in support of freedom of religion or belief both at home and abroad.
Freedom of Religion or Belief Leadership Network (FoRBLN) is a network of parliamentarians and belief leaders from 4 Countries across Africa (The Gambia and Sierra Leone) and South Asia (Bangladesh and Pakistan) who are dedicated to promoting freedom of religion or belief in their national and local communities. FoRBLN exists to address the legislative barriers to freedom of religion or belief and social mores that support societal hostility towards groups and individuals on account of their religion or belief.
African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs (ACEPA) is an African not-for-profit organization registered in Ghana. It is dedicated to building the capacity of African Parliaments and elected representative bodies at all levels of governance. ACEPA supports African countries in ensuring effective performance throughout the governance chain – from local to national representative institutions. ACEPA has excellent working relationships with more than 20 African countries/Parliaments. Its dedicated staff have more than 40 years combined work experience with Parliaments and Legislative institutions in Africa.