How human rights laws clash with African traditions- Museveni

President Museveni receving a plaque from the President of the African Court, Justice Sylvain Ore

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has questioned the intrusion of human rights laws of western countries against African traditional practices.

Speaking during the opening of the 4th Judicial Dialogue of the African Court for Human and Peoples’ Rights in Kampala, President Museveni called for the alignment of the western laws to suit pre-existing African systems.

The president made the remarks recently during the opening ceremony of the 4th Judicial Dialogue of the African Court for Human and Peoples’ Rights in Kampala, Uganda.

The president called attention of judicial experts and stakeholders to the growing tension between western human rights systems and the African system, explaining that it could be conflictual sometimes.


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“Some African societies up till now are still pre-capitalist societies, but the legal system, in many cases, is a transitrance of the bourgeoisie-liberal system of Europe. And you can see the clash,” he said.

The president also noted that there are differences in Western attitudes to issues of child discipline, age of marriage, death penalty in homicide offences, patrilineal inheritance, polygamy and exogenous systems which are part of the African system and should be integrated into the law.

“I feel some of these concepts must really be closely aligned to the way the society is organised. Trying to over cosmopolitize practices may have to end up being an injustice.

“The people on the other side, where I come from in Uganda, would say ‘Let the shape of the head determine the style of the hair’,” he added.

Earlier, the President of the African Court, Justice Sylvain Ore commended Uganda for becoming the first country outside the host of the court, Arusha, Tanzania to host the continental judicial dialogue.

He appealed to the country to make the Declaration ratifying the jurisdiction of the court to entertain cases from NGOs and individuals from the country.

EU, Inter-American Courts pledge support for African Court

Meanwhile, the Inter-American Court of human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights have pledged their support to the African Court to achieve its objectives.

The regional courts agreed to exchange information and documents, and other forms of cooperation. They also agreed to “contribute to state efforts to strengthen their democratic institutions and human rights protection mechanisms and to overcome common challenges to the effective enjoyment of human rights.”

The President of the African Court, Justice Sylvain Ore signed for the Court while President Eduardo Ferrer Mac-Gregor Poisot and Vice President Angelika Nussberger signed for the Inter-American Court and the European Court respectively.

The agreement which contains about 10 Articles, also committed to consultation and cooperation through joint actions to achieve their specific mandates.

Speaking after the signing of the agreement, Nussberger called for more collaboration and awareness on the activities of the three organs with the mandate to protect human rights in Africa.

“The African Court being one of the prime organs for the protection of human rights in Africa and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights based in Banjul in Gambia and the Committee on the Rights of Children, which is based in Addis Ababa do have a complementary mandate to work together,” she said.

Mac-Gregor Poisot said the Inter-American Court has learnt a lot from the European Court which has more than 50 years while they have just 40 years. He said only 20 out of 25 countries have recognised the jurisdiction of the court in America, and urged the African Court to learn from the experiences of the two courts.

Justice Ore expressed his commitment to the African the implementation of the agreement.

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