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WE the Bar Leaders and Representatives from over forty National and Regional, Bar Associations and Law Societies, sitting as the Council of The Pan African Lawyers.’ Union (PALU) during its meeting held on 12th February 2010, in Kigali, Rwanda, discussed .“Rule of Law Development and Role of Lawyers.” and examined the recent political and legal developments in the continent of Africa:
Conscious of the fact that sustainable development can only be attained in societies in which the rule of law is respected and promoted;
Considering the recent developments in Tunisia, Egypt, Guinea, Niger, Sudan, Ivory Coast and the fact that many African Countries face elections at different levels this year;
Determined to encourage its membership to be more proactive in being the voice of the voiceless and acting in a manner to guarantee the prevalence and the promotion of the rule of law;
Recalling the important role lawyers played during the Tunisian crisis;
Deplore the fact that human lives were lost and that citizens were injured;
Reaffirm our adherence to the principles of the Rule of Law, good governance, and respect for human rights and freedom in Africa and urge African National Bars and Law Societies to uphold these principles and rights;
Express active solidarity with all lawyers, Bar Associations and Law Societies facing harassment from their respective national Governments, commit to stand by them at all times.
As regards TUNISIA, acknowledge the leadership role of the Tunisian Bar in lending its support to distressed citizens who were only seeking to exercise their basic civil rights; URGES the Bar to continue to advocate the instauration, the strengthening of the rule of law and the protection of civil liberties during the transition phase and beyond;
As regards EGYPT, note with satisfaction the determination and resolve of the Egyptian people to peacefully effect a change in leadership through mass protests and urge the Egyptian Bar to be more involved in the process of resolving the crisis through constitutional means. Salutes the Egyptian Army for the restraint they exhibited by not resorting to brutality and refusing to fire at the very citizens they are sworn to protect;
As regards GUINEA, congratulate and rejoice with the people of Guinea on the successful completion of their electoral process and the swearing in of the first democratically elected President since independence; URGE the Bar of Guinea to continue to be the watchdog of the society where the Rule of Law should reign supreme;
As regards Sudan, applaud the successful completion of the referendum in Southern Sudan and congratulate the people of Sudan for the peaceful resolution of the longstanding conflict. Express the fervent wish that all the tenets of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement are implemented in the same spirit;
As regards Niger, welcome the latest political development in Niger that has put in place a political process that is now leading to a peaceful conduct of a free and fair elections. URGE all parties to respect and abide by the results and the Rule of Law;
As regards Ivory Coast, note with satisfaction the roles played by the African Union, The ECOWAS, the United Nations and the International Community in seeking a solution to the crisis in Ivory Coast; DEPLORE the loss of life and violence exerted on innocent citizens; URGE a peaceful resolution of the crisis and call on all the parties to respect the decision of the panel of Heads of State set up by the African Union;
As regards the Central African Republic, note with regret, instances of government interference in the exercise of legal profession and urge the Government to put an end to this and acknowledge the critical role that the Bar Association is called upon to play in the quest to put in place and guarantee the existence of a society in which the Rule of Law is truly anchored;
As Regards Eritrea, express concern over the difficult situation in which the legal profession is exercised there without a Bar Association or its equivalent; Call upon the government of Eritrea to introduce legislation that will establish a responsible and independent Bar Association.
DATED THIS 12th DAY OF FEBRUARY, 2011.
AKERE MUNA President
AKIN AKINBOTE Secretary General