The Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL) has reaffirmed its commitment to promote justice and fairness for the poor and marginalised in society, while calling on civil society organisations to remain resolute in the discharge of their advocacy duties.
CEPIL’s Executive Director, Augustine Niber, speaking during a roundtable engagement forum organised by his outfit and its partners Accra, said: “CEPIL’s vision is to have a society free of injustice, oppression and social inequity and where people live a life of dignity irrespective of sex, class, colour, race and geographical location”.
Aside from capturing inputs and feedback on the draft manual on human rights and legal protection protocol document, the Oxfam-sponsored civil society engagement forum also sought to create a platform for open conversation to consolidate gains.
While stressing the risks involved in the work of civil society organisations, he cautioned them to begin to work in ways that will enable them to navigate the risks so that they can continue to engage and be able to deliver on their mandate.
Presenting the draft a manual on human rights and legal protection protocol, Alhassan Idrissu, legal practitioners at CEPIL, stated that human rights activists are faced with numerous risks in their line of duty, both locally and internationally, that if not addressed, have the potential of impacting adversely on advocacy efforts.
Commenting on how the work of civil society organisations can bring many benefits to communities, he said: “Their work is a fundamental pillar of the international human rights system and is critical to inclusive, safe and prosperous societies”.
He however mentioned intimidation, threats, job losses and restriction on freedom of movement as some of the risks and threats to human rights defenders and CSOs, noting that activists and CSOs crucially need the law’s protection against these unnecessary human induced obstacles.
“In many countries, they are at increasingly risk of violence, harassment and human rights abuses and violations including; enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killing, arbitrary arrest, torture and unlawful imprisonment,” Mr. Idrissu added.
He condemned the negative tendencies of people in authority in both democratic and non-democratic states, trying to stifle civil society and jeopardize the work they do, both online and offline.
He cited the enactment of new legislations and regulations that limit the full enjoyment of fundamental human rights and freedoms, imposition of restrictions on CSOs, criminalisation of peaceful social protests as well as discriminating openly against individuals from marginalised and vulnerable groups, as some of the oppressive means used.
CEPIL seeks to, among other things, provide a forum for debate and discussions of public interest, particularly issues relating to laws and human rights.