The Coalition for an Effective African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Court Coalition) and its Western Africa Focal Points, the Legal Defence and Assistance Project in collaboration with two organizations, the Benin Coalition for International Criminal Court in Benin and Western Africa Human Rights Defenders Network in Togo carried out advocacy seminars in Benin from 15th to 16th May and in Togo from 20th to 21st May 2014.
The advocacy seminars were in line with the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Court) sensitization missions in Benin and Togo within its program to sensitize the countries which are still lagging behind in the process of ratification and deposit of the declaration under Article 34(6) 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).
All activities and objectives in both Benin and Togo planned prior the seminar were implemented and achieved, this included; general introduction of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, capacity building on the Court’s Rules of Procedure presented by judges of the Court, Hon. Sylvain Ore and Hon. Kimelabalou Aba in Benin and Honorable Kimelabalou Aba in Togo.
Further implemented activities included the advocacy strategies to foster ratification or deposit of the said declaration and setting up of advocacy follow up mechanisms and country focal point were all presented by the African Court Coalition and collaborating partners in respective countries.
The advocacy seminars were successful that it increased awareness of the Court’s work in Benin and Togo which will increase voices to advance human rights and build capacity of NGOs and individuals to use the Court.
Along that success, the African Court Coalition and its partners were able to discovered that Benin had already began the processes of ratifying and depositing of the advocated Article of the Protocol, since 1999 with a decret of Benin Parliament (1999) and a law (2000) : (DECRET No 99-244 DU 14 MAI 1999, Portant transmission á l’ Assemblée nationale pour autorisation de ratification, du Protocole relatif á la Charte africaine des droits de l’homme et des peoples portant creation d’une cour africaine des droits de l’homme et des peoples; L O I No 2000 – 10 DU 4 JUILLET 2000, Portant autorisation de ratification du Protocole relative á la Charte Africaine des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples portant creation d’une Cour Africaine des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples).
Advocacy strategies to foster ratification or deposit of the declaration and setting up of advocacy follow up mechanisms and formulation of focal points were also achieved that; in Benin two NGOs were formed by the participants to be the focal points these are; Changement Social Bénin (CSB) and FORAID.
Participants adopted as strategy to engage with the Office of the President and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the two institutions were identified as key actors on the ratification and the deposit of the Declaration process. In Togo, participants choose Western African Human Rights Defenders Network and Institut des Medias pour les Droits de l’Homme to be the focal points for advocacy follow up, also they identified key advocacy strategies including taking into account the work done so far by other organizations regarding the advocacy follow up on the deposit of the Declaration by Togo and identifying key actors to be reached in order for Togo to deposit the Declaration.
In its aim of being the extension of the Court’s hand in reaching more people and increasing voices, the African Court Coalition and its collaborating partners in respective countries were able to recruit new African Court Coalition members numerically Benin 13 and Togo 19 who being part of the African Court Coalition will benefit from getting the feeds of engagements of the Court and all other human right related feeds from the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Union, and to participate as well as be informed in activities of the African Court Coalition.
The advocacy seminars where financially supported by Deutsche Gesellschaft Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
From Left Mrs. Adaobi N. Egboka Western African Focal Point from Legal Defence and Assistance Project, Mr. Dieu - Donné Wedi Djamba the Executive Secretary of the African Court Coalition, Hon. Judge Sylvain Ore and Hon Judge Kimelabalou Aba (judges from the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights during the seminar. — in Cotonou, Benin.
Group photo of participants of the Advocacy Seminar of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights Protocol on the Ratification and Deposit of the Declaration under Article 34(6) of the Court Protocol — in Lome, Togo
The Executive Secretary of the African Court Coalition Mr. Dieu - Donné Wedi Djamba being interviewed on Canal 3 TV Benin (explaining about the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights and the African Court Coalition) during the Advocacy Seminar in Cotonou, Benin.