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African union : will Mauritius be next?

Vijay Naraidoo President for the Rights of Older People of DIS-MOI

We have, since the inception of DIS-MOI, been advocating for Mauritius to sign and ratify the African Union Protocol to the Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa. Our actions have been geared to sensitization meetings, conferences, multistakeholders meetings and intervention in the media. Please see below.

Rwanda signature

The Government of Rwanda has on 22nd of October signed the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons and signaled a significant commitment to protect and promote rights of older people in Rwanda. While attending the Lobbying and Advocacy Campaign Workshop by the African Union in Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia, the Rwandan Ambassador to the AU, Honourable Hope Tumukunde Gasatura, also signed the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights with Disabilities in Africa. It may be noted that a large number of older people have various forms of disabilities and, therefore, Rwanda’s signing of the AU Protocol on Disability is a significant progress.

Elie Mugabowishema with whom I have had the pleasure of working, the CEO of Nsindagiza, a civil society group based in Rwanda that advocates for the rights of older persons and a sister affiliate of HelpAge International, has termed his country’s move as timely. It is hope that the Government of Rwanda will follow up with the ratification and domesticate the provisions of the Protocol into its national laws.

It is observed that this year, quite a number of Governments in the region have signed the Protocol and the signing by Rwanda brings to 14 the number of African States that have signed the said Protocol.

Also, discussions between Governments and stakeholders in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda are ongoing along an established protocol ratification road map.

As a mark of progress Benin (West Africa) and Lesotho (Southern Africa) remain the only countries to have ratified and domesticated the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights of Older Persons.

Mauritius road map

We have systematically requested the concerned ministries and the National Human Rights Commission to take a firm stand in favour of the signature and ultimately ratification : letter to the Attorney General, Ministry of Justice and Human Rights (9th November 2018), Multistakeholders Meeting (25th March 2019), Press Article in Le Defi (12th August 2019) Memorandum to all political parties in Le Defi (14th October 2019), apart from radio and TV programmes. In parallel, we have voiced out our views at the level of the National Mechanism for Reporting and Feedback put in place by the PMO.

We shall, as a continuum of our advocacy, request the upcoming Government to draw a road map as we are indeed in a position to sign the Protocol. This road map could be drawn in consultation with the National Human Rights Commission and DIS-MOI would be most willing to give its views. The various safety nets, the social protection policy and various legislations are good reasons for motivating Mauritius to go ahead with signing the Protocol and ultimately ratify it.

The Protocol was adopted in January 2016 as a product of many years of consultations and brought to the fore commitments by the African States in the 2002 African Union Policy Framework and Plan of Action on Ageing.

The ageing of the world population is progressive and rapid. It is an unprecedented phenomenon that is affecting nearly all countries in the world, writes HelpAge International in its communique following the signature by Rwanda. As long as fertility continues to fall or remain low and old-age mortality keeps on declining, the proportion of older people will continue to increase, our Governments and societies will need to look at ways in which the needs and well-being of older people are taken care of, while at the same time adjusting to the challenging population demographics, noted Dr Prafulla Mishra, Regional Director, HelpAge International.

The UNFPA estimates that the population of 60 plus to-day  

in Africa will move from 65 million to 220 million by 2050. In Mauritius, we shall be moving from 226 000 now to over 300 000 in 2050. We reiterate it is time Mauritius signed and ratified the Protocol. The threshold of 15 countries could be reached for the Protocol to come into force. The challenge is for us to take.

By : Vijay Naraidoo
 

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