OrderPaperToday– The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and other stakeholders have tasked the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to ensure legislation for older persons in the region.
The stakeholders also urged all individual countries under ECOWAS to sign into the United Nations (UN) convention which drew up a document entitled, “Protocol to the African charter on human and people’s rights on the rights of older persons in Africa”.
The call was made during plenary at the second ordinary session of 2019 ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja.
The executive secretary of NHRC, Mr. Anthony Ojukwu, said the time was ripe for all African States to join their international counterparts to promulgate a law that would ensure the rights, protection and privileges of older persons.
“The discuss has been inevitable to sustain the momentum after the global efforts. This is followed by the high level side event by stakeholders group on aging and I believe the discussions here today will surely contribute to a common working front for Africans.”
Meanwhile, a representive of UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, Ms. Denise Hauser, enjoined the parliament to raise their voices to galvanise support for old people.
“We are talking about rights for protection of older persons because as we are seated here right now, if we are lucky, we might get to that position as well.
“This is the right time to galvanise for the rights of older persons. We urge African countries to move forward by putting in place the right policies that would guide and implement this. We must also raise our voices. We must use our existing tools to ensure this becomes a reality. We have to look at the abuse, neglect and health challenges of these persons.”
Ms. Emem Omokaro of Dave Omokaro Foundation commended ECOWAS for partnering with them (stakeholders) to tackle the issue of older persons in Africa.
According to her, “Engaging ECOWAS Parliament is like speaking to 15 countries and this would further motivate ECOWAS to move along the United Nations (UN) convention for older persons. We need your substantive input on this drive so that we can forge a common consensus goal.”
On his part, Mr. Shem Ochola of HelpPage International, from Kenya said, “As parliamentarians, you have the power to secure the future of older persons. We must take a common position of protecting older persons because you represent them. We must take into cognisance the vulnerability and poverty of most of these old persons. You as parliamentarians must serve as ambassadors. We must help with the limited capability by pushing this through. I look forward to coming back here next year to hear that all the ECOWAS countries are implementing the issues of older persons so that other countries can cue into this agenda. We stakeholders are willing to work with you to develop programmes and policies that address challenges of older persons in our society.”
Speaking earlier, the ECOWAS Parliament speaker, Mr. Mustapha Cisse Lo (Senegal), who was represented by the deputy speaker of the regional parliament, Ahmed Wase, said the aim of the conference was to come up with a solution to catering for the aged in the society.
He urged the parliament and members of the community to collaborate and ensure that the protocols on the issue of the aged persons were implemented.
Mr. Cisse-Lo gave assurance that ECOWAS would give its maximum cooperation and support to the society and the people to ensure that older people were accorded their rights.