The “Support to African Parliamentarians Association for Human Rights (AfriPAHR) to advance issues of Freedom of Religion or Belief in Africa” is a collaborative project among three partners through which the African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs, Ghana provides technical and secretariat support to AfriPAHR in partnership with the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFORB) secretariat, Norway. The Africa Centre for Parliamentary Affairs (ACEPA), Accra Ghana works with the (IPPFoRB), Oslo, Norway to promote FORB and human rights issues on the continent as well as support the network of MPs on FORB on the continent. The partnership has made it possible for ACEPA to liaise with its partners to facilitate processes and to carry out activities towards achieving the main objective of both IPPFoRB and AfriPAHR.
Some of the activities of the network so far include:
- Development of a strategic plan
- Network revitalization activities including membership drive
- High level dialogues on SDGs and FoRB
- Study visits
The land mark achievement of the network in 2021-2022 was the adoption of a new 3-year strategic plan (2022-2024) that will guide their work of network members. A renewal of their commitment to work towards an Africa where every person’s human rights are protected, where everyone can enjoy democracy and the right to freedom of religion or belief.
During the period, processes for revitalization and consolidation of AfriPAHR SC and the broader network membership resulted in the identification and encouragement of additional African MPs from Ghana, the Gambia and Sierra Leone to participate in AfriPAHR activities including the 2021/2022 high-level dialogues on SDGs and FORB organized by IPPFORB/FORBLN/AfriPAHR and its partners. ACEPA leveraged activities under its existing programme especially those associated with the FORBLN project to promote the AfriPAHR network in Sierra Leone and in the Gambia.
Through the collaborative work of partners including IPPFORB, FORBLN and ACEPA, members of the network including the chairperson participated in the webinar high-level consultations series on FORB and SDGs that run from October 2021 to February 2022. MPs also participated in other regional consultations and interviews that were aimed at obtaining information and sharing experiences aimed at establishing a clearer picture and context of FoRB related issues across the African continent.
Opportunities were created for a delegation of AfriPAHR SC members and the Chairperson, through visits to Accra, Ghana to have consultations and discussions to discover facts and collect information on human rights and FoRB issues by engaging with Ghanaian MPs and other stakeholders including the Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the National Peace Council Secretariat, representatives from the Humanist Association and the Rastafarian Association in Ghana.
There was increased and improved communication especially with the chairperson and members of SC and also with IPPFORB as well as increased dissemination of information through the website of AfriPAHR which was updated in a timely manner with information about the network activities.
Members of AfriPAHR also held a number of meetings with stakeholders in the FORB space. These included meetings with FORBLN, UK; IRFBA, USA; and Search for Common Ground, USA centered on keeping up to date on what these other stakeholders were doing in the area of FORB and exploring ways of collaborating.