Fifty (50) Pan-African Parliament Members over the weekend concluded their deliberations on the ratification and domestication of Pan-African Parliament (PAP) revised Protocol and other African Union (AU) Human Rights Instruments.
The five-day back-to-back continental consultative and capacity building forum took place at a local Hotel in Kololi.
During the opening ceremony the Speaker of the National Assembly Mariam Jack-Denton, Speaker of the National Assembly revealed that the theme for the forum: “Ratification and domestication of Pan-African Parliament (PAP) Protocol and other African Union (AU) Human Rights Instruments” is indeed timely and could not have come at a better time than now.
She added that a united Africa has been a dream for decades noting that this vision has inspired the creation of the African Union. “I think we all agree that one of the most important instruments of the AU is contained in the protocol which calls for the establishment of the Pan-African Parliament. This is quite so because a Parliament in which the voices of all Africans can be heard is a necessary tool, not only to strengthen democracy but also to give expression to the aspirations of Africans anywhere in the world”.
According to her, the Pan-African Parliament as the legislative arm of the African Union is established with the mandate to promote the ratification and domestication of the African Union Treaties and legislative acts, which include human rights as well as exercise oversight and advisory functions. This decision is strategic as the Pan-African Parliament has direct link with National Parliaments as well as strong collaboration and cooperation with the European Parliament within the framework of the Joint Africa Europe Strategy. The National Parliaments could serve as an entry point for the ratification, domestication and monitoring of the African Union decisions particularly in the area of human rights.
“As elected parliamentarians, we must be acutely aware of our responsibilities and challenges we face if we are to serve the interests of our people. The ability of Parliamentarians to fight for the interest of the people will ensure the success of the Pan-African Parliament. The Pan-African Parliament is so far the only appropriate institution to ensure that governments and states in the continent implement the AU programmes through their oversight functions”, she concluded.
Stephen Masele, 1st Vice President of PAP stated that the Pan African Parliament is the voice of the African people, a voice that expresses the legitimate concerns and rights of the people. However, he continued follow up of resolutions and recommendations adopted by their plenary remains a major challenge facing and hindering their desired progress at the level of PAP.
“We are encouraged by the nine countries that have fully ratified the protocol at present, amongst which, The Gambia is one”, he said.
By Aji Fatou Faal