AFRICA/CONGO - A new law to protect the rights of indigenous peoples

Brazzaville (Agenzia Fides) – The Republic of Congo is destined to become the first country in Africa to provide special legal protection to its indigenous peoples. In a declaration by Jean Ganga, president of the Association for the Protection and the Promotion of Indigenous Peoples, one reads that with the adoption of this new law it is hoped that many things will change, and especially the emancipation of the indigenous will receive favour, who constitute about 10% of the population of the Congo and live in almost every region throughout the Country. The new law aims to counter marginalization, which manifests in their exclusions from the education system, in the high levels of illiteracy and in the lack of access to state services such as health care structures.
With this Act, the indigenous, many of whom are known as Pygmies, will be protected and enjoy the same rights as the Bantu, and will no longer be treated as inferior. “In the past the Africans from South Africa lived in slavery, like the blacks in the United States. The same occurred in the Congo to the indigenous. The new law will change everything. It will be a revolution for the rights of these peoples,” according to the director for human rights for the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. Sanctions have been provided for those who treat the indigenous people like slaves.
(AP) (08/01/2011 Agenzia Fides)

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