IMPROVING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE AFRICAN COURT ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS (AFCHPR)

African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights 10th Anniversary Symposium  21-22 November 2016 In Arusha.

As a continental court established by African countries to ensure the protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa. It complements and reinforces the functions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Court receive cases filed by the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights, State parties to the Protocol or African Intergovernmental Organizations. Non-Governmental Organizations with observer status before the African Commission and individuals can also institute cases directly before the Court as long as the state against which they are complaining has deposited the Article 34(6) declaration recognizing the jurisdiction of the Court to accept cases from individuals and NGOs. The Court delivered its first judgment in 2009. As at October 2016, the Court had received 119 applications and finalized 32 cases. Currently, the Court has 87 pending cases and 4 Requests for advisory opinion.

The court recently marked its 10th Anniversary at its seat in Arusha, Tanzania. AfCHPR with support from the German International Development Agency (GIZ) facilitated the two-day Symposium from 21-22 November 2016 to mark its 10th Anniversary at its seat in Arusha, Tanzania. ‘’The overall objective of the Symposium was to assess the work of the Court for the last 10 years with a view to making recommendations that will enhance the effectiveness of the Court for the future,’’ according to the African Court President, Hon. Justice Sylvain Oré.

The Symposium brought together over 150 delegates including the academia, Civil Society Organizations, Organs of the AU, judiciary representatives of regional and sub-regional human rights institutions, among others.  This provided an opportunity to discuss: the historical genesis of the Court; the jurisdiction of the African Court– similarities and peculiarities in comparison to other regional and sub-regional bodies; Challenges to judicial protection to human rights in Africa;

 Enhancing institutional legitimacy and protection of human rights—a persistent challenge of emerging human rights institutions: Accessibility of the Court—economic, legal and other obstacles;

 a critical analysis of jurisprudence of the African Court; Ten years of African Court—lessons learnt and Institutional co-operation between the African Court and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

AU Consults EACSOF on the African Human Rights Action and Implementation Plan 2017 – 2027

Alongside the same symposium, the AU also consulted different CSOs on a 10-Year Action and Implementation Plan for the African Human Rights in Africa.  Themes discussed and shared by CSOs were on the historical genesis; Promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa over the last 30 years: progress, challenges, prospects; Thematic issues in the Promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa, Legal Framework, Implementation issues, Institutional arrangements, Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Financing Human and Peoples’ Rights in Africa and Communications and outreach; What are the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) doing about human and peoples’ rights and how are they interfacing with the African Union (AU): Case Study of the East African Community (EAC); Emerging areas in human and peoples’ rights  with respect to Bio-ethics and Human Rights, Business and Human Rights (could include Illicit Financial Flows), Climate Justice and Human Rights (including environmental rights), Economic Justice and Human Rights (could also include Illicit Financial Flows and Tax Justice), Preventing Violent Extremism, Continental Free Trade Agreement, Freedom of Movement.

CSOs were able to deliberate on how to make the future of human and peoples’ rights in Africa more valuable and important. The role of Civil Society Organizations was highlighted clearly remarking that human-rights-related matters play a vital role within the African legal framework as well as in CSOs daily practice, as many have implemented certain provisions in their mandate that have an impact on human rights and good governance.

It was also noted that states have committed themselves to respecting human rights by acceding to specific human rights treaties, conventions or Declarations on the international, regional and sub regional level to which they also have a mandate to protect and promote human rights in their respective countries.

 

About the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights

 The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Court) is a continental court established by African countries to ensure the protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa. It complements and reinforces the functions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The Court was established by virtue of Article 1 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, (the Protocol) which was adopted by Member States of the then Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in June 1998. The Protocol came into force on 25 January 2004.

As at October 2016, only seven of the thirty States Parties to the Protocol had made the declaration recognizing the competence of the Court to receive cases from NGOs and individuals. The seven States are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Malawi and Tanzania. The 30 States which have ratified the Protocol are: Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Comoros, Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Lesotho, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Nigeria, Niger, Rwanda, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, South Africa, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia and Uganda.

The Court officially started its operations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in November 2006, and in August 2007 it moved to its seat in Arusha, the United Republic of Tanzania.

As at October 2016, the Court had received 119 applications and finalized 32 cases. Currently, the Court has 87 pending cases and 4 Requests for Advisory Opinion.

 

 

 

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