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Pan African Parliament Assess Impact Of #COVID-19 On Human Rights




The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) has reiterated that respect for human rights across the spectrum including economic, social, civil and political rights, will be critical to a successful public health response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Africa.

The call was made at the occasion of a webinar on the impact of Covid-19 on upholding human rights in Africa, held on 28 July 2020.

The virtual engagement sought to contextualise the centrality of human rights in dealing with health disasters, and the role of an informed legislature in addressing the human rights challenges arising from such pandemics, especially in the context of Covid-19.

Moderated by Hon. Mephato REATILE, the webinar also aimed to identify the human rights violations that are likely to occur in Africa during COVID-19 and to promote parliamentary involvement in the upholding of human rights during pandemics.

Chief Fortune CHARUMBIRA, Vice President of the PAP, noted that that human rights transgressions have featured extensively in most African countries as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He further called on African Parliamentarians to hold governments accountable to their commitments to continental and international human rights instruments.

As part of its mandate, the PAP is called upon to promote human and peoples’ rights, consolidate democratic institutions and the democratic culture, good governance, transparency and the rule of law by all organs of the union, regional economic communities and member states.

“Our obligation remains to ensure that our states protect and promote human rights for all groups especially the vulnerable. This is imperative at this time to assist societies to emerge more resilient from this pandemic,” said Charumbira.

Amb. Salah HAMMAD, Head of the African Governance Architecture (AGA) Secretariat within the African Union Commission Department of Political Affairs, addressed the webinar on the African Union (AU) Human Rights Mechanisms that protect citizens against abuse of power during health emergencies.

Amb.Hammad reminded participants that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced AU member states to use unusual methods of governance to address the health crisis.

Areas of human rights, justice and rule of law as well as democracy and constitutionalism have suffered setbacks as part of states of emergency declared to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in African countries.

In the light of this, AU mechanisms, organs and institutions are working closely to provide technical support to member states in the fight against COVID-19 through a human rights-based approach. 

“The approach seeks to mainstream specific areas of focus including human rights, human security, gender equality, youth empowerment and women inclusion as well as protection and promotion of the rights of marginalized groups such as children, cultural minority and old persons among others,” said Amb. Hammad.

It was recalled that in October 2019, the PAP Plenary adopted the Model Law on Policing in Africa, which establishes guidelines for law enforcement agencies engagement with state, community and oversight actors.

It envisages and prioritizes the protection of life, liberty, security, and upholding the rule of law and human rights.

The PAP has previously hailed the AU for endorsing a joint continental strategy to combat Covid-19, complementing efforts by member states and the regional economic communities by providing the public health platform.

Dr. Raji TAJUDEEN, Africa CDCs’ Head for Public Health and Research told the meeting that the continental coordination of COVID-19 by the institution has focused on the socio-economic impact of the pandemic on vulnerable populations.

He also highlighted efforts made to address stigma and discrimination in access to healthcare and funds made available as part of the fight against pandemics in general.

Ms Patience Mungwari MPANI, Project Manager: Women’s Right Unit at the Centre for Human Rights (University of Pretoria), shone the light on the plight of women and old persons.

She emphasized that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities.

‘Mitigation strategies need to take into account the fact that certain categories are more exposed than others.

In the case old people, they usually carry underlying health problems and merit specific attention in these times.

On the other hand, it is important to highlight the inability of women to access social care in times of COVID-19 as they are also confronted with gender-based and domestic violence during these times.

Kudakwashe DUBE, CEO of Africa Disability Alliance (ADA) delved on the predicament of persons with disabilities.

According to Dube, Persons this group generally has more health-care needs than others and are therefore more vulnerable to the impact of low quality or inaccessible health-care services than others.

“We must ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind during the COVID-19 outbreak and that they are treated with respect, dignity and without discrimination.”

PAP has passed the African Model law on Disability, which provides a legal and institutional framework for the protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities.

Drafted in line with the existing international and regional, legal and policy instruments, these strides were made by the PAP in upholding its commitment to protecting the rights of every citizen of this continent.

Bonolo MAKGALE, Project Coordinator: Democracy, Transparency and Digital Rights Unit at the Centre for Human Rights, underscored the role of Parliamentarians in protecting human rights during pandemics.

“Parliamentarians need to strengthen checks and balances to ensure that the health burden caused by Covid-19 is not worsened by human rights violations across the continent. African Parliamentarians are therefore called upon to protect human rights during pandemics by actively being involved in providing legislative guidance and parameters to emergency measures put in place by governments. Once these parameters have been established, Parliamentarians should monitor the implementation phase and use their oversight powers to safeguard the rights of the citizens.” she said. 

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Tanzania Receives Over One Million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses From China




Tanzania on Friday received 1,065,600 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China under COVAX, boosting the east African nation’s vaccination campaign against COVID-19.

Speaking shortly after receiving the vaccines, Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Dorothy Gwajima expressed gratitude for the vaccines, saying the donation will help accelerate Tanzania’s vaccination campaign launched by President Samia Suluhu Hassan on July 28.

COVAX is a global program aimed at providing equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

She said a total of 760,962 citizens have been vaccinated on Tanzania’s mainland and 10,800 citizens have received the jabs in Zanzibar as of October 7.

Xu Chen, Minister Counsellor and Deputy Chief of Mission at the Chinese Embassy in Tanzania, said the donated vaccines will bolster Tanzania’s fight against the pandemic.

He said the Chinese government and Tanzania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation are working very closely to facilitate the donation of two consignments totaling about 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from China.

The hand-over ceremony at Julius Nyerere International Airport in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam was attended by high-ranking government officials and representatives from the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the UN Children’s Fund.

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Museveni To Be Retested After Aides Test Positive For COVID-19



Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni will be retested for COVID-19 after three of his aides tested positive for the virus, his physician said Friday.

Museveni’s consultant physician, Joseph Okiria, tweeted that the aides had tested positive on their return with the President from trips to the United Arab Emirates and Ethiopia.

“Following President Museveni’s recent return from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Addis Ababa, three presidential aides have tested positive for COVID-19.

This despite best efforts and measures including daily PCR testing and full vaccination,” Okiria said. He said the staff who tested positive had been isolated and were receiving care.

“The President and other members of the team tested negative and will be retested,” Okiria added. “This highlights the continued difficulty of safe travel during the pandemic and the importance of testing all inbound and outbound travelers,” the physician added.

The number of daily infections in the east African country continued to drop, with less than 100 cases being registered, according to the health ministry.

The Ugandan government recently resolved that incoming and outbound travelers would be tested for COVID-19.

As of Friday, 124,437 total infections had been registered with 3,172 deaths and 96,237 recoveries since the outbreak started in March 2020, according to the ministry of health.

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Slovakia Donates 280,000 Doses Of COVID-19 Vaccines To Rwanda



Rwanda has received 280,000 doses of Astra Zeneca vaccine donated by Slovakia. 

The delivery of the vaccines is coordinated through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (EUCPM), which Rwanda applied to in order to access the vaccines. 

Responding to calls for vaccine justice and solidarity, Slovakia joins the EU in Kigali to donate the vaccines and commends Rwanda’s efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Slovak Ambassador, Katarína Žuffa Leligdonová in Kenya said that, “Slovakia has heard loud and clear the calls for vaccine justice. Covid pandemics can only be successfully overcome if we join forces together. That is why Slovakia has joined in the EU family in Kigali and provide 280 000 Astra Zenecca vaccines to help Rwandan government and people to tackle this pandemics.”

The Head of Delegation of the European Union to Rwanda, Ambassador Nicola Bellomo said; “The EU is proud to have assisted the arrival of the vaccines through the EUCPM. The EU stands in solidarity with Rwanda, both multilaterally by supporting the COVAX facility, but also bilaterally by mobilising vaccines donated by our Member States through the EUCPM, and by working with Rwanda to create the framework necessary to attract foreign investment into vaccines manufacturing in the country”.

The EU finances 75% of the transport costs of the assistance sent through the EUPCM.

Through this Mechanism, the EU helps coordinate and finance the delivery of vaccines, medical and protective equipment and other material which are donated by EU Member states across Europe and the world, to countries that seek assistance.

Slovakia remains a staunch supporter of international solidarity through multilateralism and the COVAX facility.

Two weeks ago, Slovak President Ms. Zuzana Čaputová emphasised in her speech at the United Nations General Assembly that solidarity should be a binding principle, not an option. Slovakia will continue supporting all efforts to help making vaccines accessible to all.

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