- The Congo Brazzaville parliament is preparing to make new legislation that will incorporate international human rights instruments in Congolese law. Both UN and regional human rights treaties and institutions are considered.
According to the Congolese government, the Brazzaville parliament has been authorised to "develop a national strategy of ownership and development of international instruments on human rights." The initiative was developed at a parliamentary workshop last week, which comprised members of both chambers. Claudine Munari was appointed to head the strategy works.
Workshop participants recommended the Congolese parliament to establish a tool for dissemination of human rights. This institutional arrangement could be supplemented by an arsenal of specific laws targeting human rights in the country. The parliament, government and civil society were called upon to develop a booklet on human rights with their recommendations.
The participants further recommended the strengthening of public awareness about principles and provisions of the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child in Congo's many rural and remote areas. They stressed the need to develop measures and policies to protect vulnerable populations, including children in the large and sparsely populated country.
"Our country, as we know, has undergone a significant development in the field of human rights since 2002, thanks to the constitution of 20 January of the same year," noted Benjamin Bounkoulou, the vice-chairman of the Brazzaville senate. "But much remains to be done and that requires the involvement of all. Information and education about human rights must be a top priority for state institutions," Mr Bounkoulou added.
"The Congolese parliament will spare no effort to meet appropriate conditions to carry out the strategies adopted by this seminar to meet the requirements of the United Nations, particularly during the universal periodic review," the senate leader concluded.
Congo Brazzaville has a poor historic record regarding human rights, starting with an authoritarian French colonial administration, the gradual establishment of a Marxist dictatorship starting in 1964 and lasting until 1990, the uninterrupted authoritarian regime of President Denis Sassou-Nguesso since 1979 and over a decade of civil strife and warfare that only ended in 2007.
Only in this decade, the Brazzaville has gradually increased the human rights situation in the country, although political rights under President Sassou-Nguesso still remain very limited. The last elections, in mid-year 2007, were boycotted by some 40 parties, resulting in the ruling party winning 90 percent of parliamentary seats.
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