The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) represented by Rigbe Gebrehawaria, Commissioner for Women, Children, Older Persons and Disability Rights, and Yemserach Legesse, Director for Women’s and Children’s Rights Department, participated in the 42nd Ordinary Session of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) which is taking place at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from November 8 – 17, 2023.
The ACERWC, established under the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child to promote and implement the rights of children in Africa, holds its ordinary sessions in the presence of state parties, NHRIs, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and other stakeholders. During the 42nd Ordinary Session, crucial topics were discussed encompassing the impact of climate change in Africa, the African Union Child Safeguarding Policy, and the development of a comprehensive policy to ensure children’s safety. The ACERWC granted affiliate status to the EHRC during its 39th Ordinary Session in 2022, allowing the EHRC to participate in various activities during Committee sessions, such as delivering statements on children’s human rights in Ethiopia, proposing agenda items, providing expert advice, and submitting alternative or shadow reports.
Commissioner Rigbe, representing the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI), highlighted the imperative for funding support to facilitate the convening of an NHRIs forum on the margins of the ordinary sessions of the Committee, the commencement of ‘Baseline Assessment and Stakeholder Mapping of National Human Rights Institutions’ and Other Actors’ Involvement in African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), call for the silencing of the guns across the globe, the Rights of the Child in the Digital Environment, and combating harmful practices. Emphasizing collaboration with international, continental, and national institutions, she underscored the critical importance of safeguarding and promoting children’s rights across the continent.
The session also marked the launch of two ACRWC initiatives: ACERWC’s Study on Children without Parental Care, launched by President Sahle Work Zewde, and the Joint General Comment on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). In its review of Member States’ compliance with the ACRWC, the Committee considered input from stakeholders, including civil society organizations and NHRIs.
In the session, EHRC, as an Affiliate of ACERWC, was represented by Yemserach Legesse, Director of the Women’s and Children’s Rights Department, who highlighted Ethiopia’s positive developments, including the cessation of hostilities in the northern Ethiopian conflict and the launch of public consultations on transitional justice policy options. She also addressed challenges, such as conflicts leading to school closures and the recruitment of minors into armed groups.