Bissau- Guinean civil society seeks to promote active citizenship

On 10 November, the Civil Society Movement, the Free Citizens' Movement, the National Youth Council and the National Youth Network launched a civic education campaign on citizenship and democratic culture across the country with the support of UNIOGBIS.

10 Nov 2016

Bissau- Guinean civil society seeks to promote active citizenship

The right to citizenship is provided for in the Constitution of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, article 44, paragraphs 1 and 2. Leopoldo Amado researcher and Director of the Institute of Studies and Research, says however that “in Guinea-Bissau, most people do not exercise their right to citizenship because they do not know the form and content of this exercise, from where and how far they can go in exercising their citizenship."

Amado stresses that "If everyone in their sphere of action, in their workplace and in their space for  socialization exercises citizenship, then directly or indirectly we create a broad movement, which we can call citizenship movement that would end up positively influencing public policies of our own space, policymakers and ultimately influence our way of being and exercising power."

Janice Aleluia Lopes Nunes, a member of the Technical Commission of the campaign for the promotion of culture, said with this campaign they intend to "take the population from deep passivity to an awaken new spirit of citizen participation."

In 2012, Civil Society organizations transformed a former prison where many violations of human rights took place into a Human Rights House. Today it serves to promote citizenship and human rights. Its coordinator, Filomena Barreto Ferreira, said it has become "a place for promotion of dialogue and civic participation."

For his part, the lecturer at the Faculty of Law of Bissau, Augusto Pereira, remembers that who exercises the first democratic power in any country is the citizen and he has the right to demand a representation that suits his interests. "From the moment you have chosen someone for power, it is to represent you, then if he does not represent you well there is a mechanism to demand it, through the right of manifestation and freedom of expression."

According to UNDP project manager for access to justice, Kanil Lopes, a way to support the government of Guinea-Bissau to enable its citizens to exercise their rights to citizenship is through the project of access to justice, "a center where the population can receive free advice and information on how to deal with certain problems such as inheritance, land property, etc.”

According to Carolino Gomes, an inhabitant of the Quinara region, Buba sector "Should we be conscious and ask ourselves, as a citizen that I am, what I did today for my country? This is the first step we must take for the development of our country.

Henriqueta C.M.Tomas, an inhabitant of the sector of São Domingos, Cacheu region, regrets today’s loss of values ​​ in Guinean society. "We are losing every day values ​​as a citizen and hence I ask where is education? How is it possible to respect citizenship in this condition? It is up to each one to reflect."