Parliamentary Caucus on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB), Launched in Ghana

The Speaker of the Ghana Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin launched the Ghana Parliamentary Caucus on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) in Accra on Monday, November 13, 2023. Members of the Ghana Caucus were joined at the event by delegations from the Parliamentary FoRB Caucuses from Malawi, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia. Also in attendance were Faith Leaders from Sierra Leone, The Gambia, and Ghana as well as some Civil Society representatives and the Media.

The Caucus launch was organised under the auspices of the African Centre for Parliamentary

Affairs’ partnership with the International Panel of Parliamentarians on Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB), the Freedom of Religion or Belief Leadership Network (FoRBLN), and the African Parliamentarians Network on Human Rights (AfriPAHR). The launch discussed the purpose of having a caucus in parliament that supports and champions issues of religion or belief and human rights in general, the challenges of dealing with such issues as well and the role such a caucus will play in ensuring that the rights of citizens are safeguarded and respected at all times.

In his keynote address, the Speaker reiterated the need to be tolerant of each other irrespective of one’s religion. Encouraging people present to not force others to believe in things they are not interested in, Speaker Bagbin, quoting George Carlin, noted that: “Religion is like a pair of shoes… Find one that fits for you, but don't make me wear your shoes.” He maintained his stance on Freedom of Religion or Belief and strongly advocated for the inclusion of women into the FoRB space as they are leaders themselves.

The highlight of the event was the signing of the Accra Charter on FoRB. The Executive Director of ACEPA – Dr. Rasheed Draman – read out the Charter to members present before they appended their signatures.

By signing the Charter, members present committed themselves to achieving the following laudable objectives:

  • Promote Freedom of Religion for all persons through their work and respective institutions.
  • Enhance global cooperation by endeavoring to work across geographical, political religious lines.
  • Undertake efforts to jointly promote Freedom of Religion or Belief, share information, and mobilize effective responses.
  • Support appropriate initiatives that advance Freedom of Religion or Belief for women and young people.
  • Identify and support future parliamentarians and faith leaders who show a commitment to Freedom of Religion or Belief.

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