Natural Justice’s Lesle Jansen is currently attending a two-day consultation and dialogue organised in Tunisia by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP), with its civil societies in the North African region, around the issue of indigenous peoples.
The seminar is aimed at gathering information on the situation of indigenous communities in the sub-region, and sensitising them around the legal and institutional frameworks in place – both at the international and regional levels – for the promotion and protection of indigenous peoples’ rights.
The seminar objectives are to:
- Sensitise stakeholders in North Africa about the Working Group’s approach to the issue of the rights of indigenous populations;
- Analyze the main problems faced by indigenous populations in North Africa; and reflect towards their resolution; and
- Identify the principal tenets of a strategy for better collaboration between the Working Group, civil society, and indigenous communities in North Africa.
The seminar brings together civil society from Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Libya, and Tunisia. On the first day, the Working Group, the Head of the Office of the High Commission of Human Rights Tunisia, the International Labor Organization focal point, and indigenous communities from the different parts of North Africa all made presentations to the seminar.
The North African indigenous communities highlighted the lack of constitutional recognition in the post-revolution era their region as an area of major concern, exacerbated by the fact that mainstream media did not cover issues affecting them at all. Other key issues were relocations from their traditional lands, cultural assimilation, lack of basic health services, no agricultural assistance from the state, and marginalization.
The first day closed with a discussion and Q&A session between civil society and the Working Group, followed by a press conference for the Tunisian media.