Prevent human rights violations – German envoy
Deputy Head of Mission of German Embassy in Accra, Mr Hans-Helge Sander has emphasised the need for states to prevent human rights violations.
He said preventing, mitigating and addressing human rights violations in conflict and post-conflict situations were pre-conditions for sustainable peace.
“In the conflict and post-conflict situations, national authorities have often lost the capacity, resources and expertise (sometimes also the political will) necessary to ensure human rights protection,” Mr Sander said.
He was addressing the opening session of the fifth Human Rights in Multidimensional Peace Support Missions Course for field officers’ course at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra.
Human rights abuses have become rampant on the African continent, with discriminate attacks, massacres and extrajudicial executions.
The two-week course, which is being organised by KAIPTC, in collaboration with the GIZ, seeks to address human rights compliance, human rights violations, and mainstream human rights principle.
It is being attended by 40 participants drawn from Ghana, Benin, the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, and Zambia.
Mr Sander said the German government had supported KAIPTC financially and technically since its opening in 2004 in a wide range of areas.
He recounted that the course was developed based on a need expressed by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Programme in a meeting at KAIPTC in 2013.
“Interestingly, at a recent training needs assessment conducted by KAIPTC and GIZ at the African Union level, the AU also indicated that there is a high demand for human rights experts in Peace Support Mission’s in the region and a need for qualified human rights training in this context,” he said.
“Unfortunately, violations of human rights are happening every day in different forms, whether it is the force by security forces to stop, for example, peaceful protest or the forceful jailing of opposition members. Often, these violations are a result of the collapse of public infrastructure, functioning government institutions and the rule of law.”
Mr Sander said it was in this context that human rights experts, and in particular human rights observers, were called upon to help fill this human rights vacuum.
He said this was evident in the consistent inclusion of robust mandates in the UN and other regional peace support operations by the AU.
He said human rights violations were a reality, hence the need for the Human Rights in Multidimensional Peace Support Missions Course.
Air Vice Marshall (AVM) Griffith S. Evans, the Commandant of KAIPTC, said the course had been specially put together and reviewed by experts from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the AU, Human Rights Watch, the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD), the Ghana Police Service, GIZ, and KAIPTC.
He said the course aimed at equipping human rights officers with the necessary knowledge, skills and technical competencies needed to support human rights in peace operations in Africa.
“We are truly grateful to all our partners for supporting this course over the years. I want to especially thank the German government for their continuous funding and support through its implementing agency, GIZ,” he stated.
He said security on the African continent was a never-ending discussion that requires pragmatic steps, given the reality of human rights abuses when conflicts erupt.
“Again, considering the UN special report on exploiting by UN troops in Africa, the need for trained human rights practitioners cannot be overemphasised,” he said.
He said human rights was the foundation of humanity, and that their hope was that after the course, the participants would be relentless implementers and advocates of human rights wherever they found themselves.
In an interview on the sidelines with the course director, Lydia Yamoah Hagan, she said that the course is in eight modules, made up of the theoretical and practical aspects. Some of the modules include documenting and reporting on human rights violations, best strategies for protecting the vulnerable, and how to work with local partners in countries.
It was revealed by the commandant that KAITPC’s new strategic plan is open to collect feedback from clients, hence participants are expected to respond to all requests for feedback and evaluations on the Leaning Management System, in order to make the course relevant.
The Human Rights Course has been reviewed by experts from the United Nations office of the High Commissioner of the Human Rights, the African Union, the Human Rights Watch, the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy, the Ghana Police Service, GIZ, and KAIPTC.