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African Human Rights Law Journal

On-line version ISSN 1996-2096
Print version ISSN 1609-073X

Abstract

OAMEN, Philip E  and  EKHATOR, Eghosa O. The impact of COVID-19 on the socio-economic rights of older persons in Africa: The urgency of operationalising the Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons. Afr. hum. rights law j. [online]. 2021, vol.21, n.2, pp.782-811. ISSN 1996-2096.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/1996-2096/2021/v21n2a31.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic across the world, it has been reported that older persons have suffered acute hardship and fatalities more than any other age group. According to the World Health Organisation the fatality rate among older persons is five times the global average, and the United Nations has predicted that the mortality rate could climb even higher. The situation is aggravated on the African continent as a result of a shortage of medical personnel and other resources, as well as inadequate palliative measures to address the issues around the pandemic. Despite the provisions in the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa which seek to provide some safety nets, many of these senior citizens continue to suffer untold socioeconomic hardship. Adopting an analytical and doctrinal methodology, this article examines the Protocol, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and several United Nations policy documents aimed at realising the socio-economic rights of older persons. The article finds that there is a lack of political commitment to operationalise the provisions of the Protocol, as evinced by the limited number of countries that have ratified it since its adoption in 2016. It comparatively engages with the provisions of the Inter-American Convention on the Rights of Older Persons to argue that, beyond the normative framing of these rights in Africa, there is a need for deliberate and genuine commitment by governments in Africa, if the rights are to be realised. The article advocates international, regional and national cooperation and calls for a more liberal judicial approach, to ensure that the Protocol's 'paperisation' of the rights of older persons does not lead or continue to lead to their pauperisation.

Keywords : Africa; COVID-19; economic and social rights; impact; older persons; pandemic.

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