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Regional News Thu, 13 May 2004

Right to Housing in Africa is poorly enforced- Ayamdoo

Agona Swedru, May 13, GNA- Mr Charles Ayamdoo, Acting Executive Director of the Center for Public Interest Law (CEPIL) said on Thursday that the right to housing in Africa was largely unrecognised and poorly enforced.

He said violations of the right to housing of many an African continued to occur on regular basis.

Mr Ayamdoo was opening a workshop for judges and lawyers drawn from Ghana, Nigeria, the Gambia and Kenya, on the theme: Litigating Economic, Social and Cultural Rights".

The two-day workshop would take about the 40 participants, through topics such as: "Overview of Housing Legislation and Procedures in Ghana"; "Housing Rights as a Human Right"; The Justiciability of Housing Rights"; and "Regional and International Protection of Housing Rights". Mr Ayamdoo regretted that whereas civil and political rights were justifiable in Africa, most economic, social and cultural rights were not easily enforceable.

He explained that economic, social and cultural rights on the continent did not create binding legal obligations, which could give rise to an action in court.

He therefore made it clear that governments might provide the citizenry with medical care, education, shelter, food and work, only if the necessary resources were available.

"Litigating housing rights on behalf of poor communities, provides one strategy for assisting to improve housing conditions for the poor, as well as establishing a sustainable legal framework for the enforcement and protection of housing rights for the benefit of all, especially the poor", he said.

Mr Gabriel Pwamang, Executive Council Member of CEPIL and a private legal practitioner, stressed the need for lawyers to be at the forefront of the litigation to ensure the enforcement of the citizenry's rights to fundamental human rights, including housing.

Mr Bret Thiele, Co-ordinator of the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Litigation Programme of the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), said as an international human rights organisation in the Netherlands, COHRE was committed to preventing forced evictions and upholding the human right to adequate housing.

Mr Thiele said while COHRE Africa programme sought to promote housing rights throughout the continent, it highlighted the practice of forced evictions, which had taken place in the context of armed conflict.

Among the resource persons of the workshop are Mr Justice A K B Ampiah and Mr Justice J E K Aikins, both retired judges of the Supreme Court. 13 May 04

Source: GNA