African Union to tackle human rights abuse of mine workers

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – The African Union (AU) has marked the African Human Rights Day, with a call for action to end human rights abuses of mine workers in Africa, days after the shooting of several mine workers demanding pay at a Zambian mine. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights is putting in place measures to curb the abuses of workers in the continent’s mining industry.

‘The African Commission’ has established this year, a special mechanism on extractive industries, environment and human rights violations in Africa, and another special mechanism on human rights and HIV along with its other existing procedure,’ said Dr. Mary Maboreke, a representative of the African Commission.

The Commission has also established several mechanisms to help promote and protect specific rights, she added, without giving more details.

She spoke during celebrations here, to mark the African Human Rights Day.

Mine workers in most parts of Africa work in deplorable conditions often prone to accidents. Mining accidents killed at least 170 people in South Africa in 2009.

In Zambia, mine workers cite discrimination, lack of proper working gear and human rights abuses as some of the key factors affecting their work.

The African Commission says since several African states, parties to the African Charter this year celebrate their 50th anniversary of independence, the Commission has invited the countries to dialogue about what has been achieved to ensure that human rights are effectively respected within families, communities, and in countries.

Meanwhile, AU Commission President Jean Ping led the celebrations of the African Human Rights Day, expressing worries over the conflicts related to minerals or its shortage in several countries in the African continent.

Speakers at the ceremony expressed their worries over ongoing humanitarian crises due to international or internal armed conflicts, the scarcity or the abundance of national resources in a number of African countries.

Ping said this was a serious obstacle to achieving sustainable peace and development in Africa, adding that the persistence of extreme poverty in some African countries, and high rates of HIV/AIDS infection, with many of the countries losing

many of its people in the prime of their lives, were also issues of concern as the continent marked the African Rights Day.

Speaking at the session, the AU Director of Political Affairs, Mr. Emile Ognimba, said 21 October, 2010, was set aside to commemorate the entry into force in 1986 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (AfCHPR).

Dr. Robert Eko, the representative of the AfCHPR, said, ‘Many conflicts are sparked by a failure to protect human rights, and the trauma that results from severe human rights violations often leads to new human rights violations.’

He also said that, as conflict intensifies, hatred accumulates and makes restoration of peace more difficult. In order to stop this cycle of violence, states must institute policies aimed at human rights protection.


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