Switzerland's human rights activity in Senegal
Bern, 17.05.2012 - The first round of discussions on human right issues between Switzerland and Senegal took place on 15 May 2012 in the Senegalese capital Dakar. The talks focused on Switzerland's priority topics, workshops were held with the participation of experts and accompanying projects were initiated. With the launch of such bilateral human rights consultations, Switzerland is stepping up its activity in West Africa. Senegal is the second West African country after Nigeria with which Switzerland is conducting such a dialogue.
The talks were opened by the new Senegalese Justice Minister Aminata Touré. The Senegalese side consisted of a delegation of representatives of various ministries headed by ambassador Tidiane Thiam, General Director of Justice and Consular Affairs in the Foreign Ministry, and a number of specialists. The Swiss delegation was headed by Ambassador Paul Koller, special envoy for human rights issues in the Human Security section of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Muriel Berset-Kohen, the Swiss ambassador in Dakar, was also a member of the delegation.
Both multilateral and bilateral human rights issues were discussed in the talks. The experience of both countries with the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council were a central focus. Access to justice and the rights of children and of women were also discussed. This meant that the main conditions for the accompanying project on the youth justice were fulfilled. The aim of this project is to increase the professionalism of persons working in youth justice. In November of this year, the project will start in partnership with the Centre de Formation Judiciaire de Dakar
. It will be run by Professor Jean Zermatten, head of the Institut International du Droit de l’Enfant (IIDE),
and Michel Lachat, head of the Youth Court in the Canton of Freiburg.
Experience has shown that the active inclusion of civil society is a key condition for any solution-driven activity in the human rights field. The official discussions were thus complemented on the next day by two workshops in which numerous representatives of Senegalese non-governmental organisations discussed in depth the protection of children's rights and access to justice.
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