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PostHeaderIcon Advocacy at the African Commission

The Coalition was granted observer status at the 44th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights which was held in Abuja, Nigeria from 10 to 24 November 2008.

Coalition members use the sessions of the African Commission to conduct advocacy, organise discussions on the African Court, and publicise the work of the Coalition. Members also meet with government representatives and participate in parallel civil society events on raising awareness on the African human rights system.

 

PostHeaderIcon Advancing Victims’ rights and Access to Justice before the African Court and Commission for Human and People’s Rights

Advancing Victims’ rights and Access to Justice before the African Court and Commission for Human and People’s Rights

Background

Over the past three decades, the fight against impunity for human rights violations on the African continent and the drive to hold perpetrators accountable before competent jurisdictions has made timid progress. Nonetheless, respect for due process and victims’ rights to participate in proceedings has progressed thanks to the perseverance of African civil society organisations who have used regional legal instruments to advance the cause of justice.

The principles of justice for victims of human rights abuses and holding perpetrators accountable have been recognized by various regional legal instruments including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child; and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women. Article 4 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, also entrenches African States’ commitment to human rights, the sanctity of human life, and the fight against impunity.

The development of legal standards for the definition of human rights in Africa was followed by the establishment of institutions tasked with ensuring the effective protection of victims, adopting measures to address violations, awarding compensation/reparations, and sanctioning perpetrators responsible for these violations. Thus, after the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights was established in 1987, African leaders adopted the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the establishment of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) in 1998, which came into force on 25 January 2004. Thereafter, on 1 July 2008, African States adopted the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights which merged the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Court of Justice of the African Union established in 2003 into a single Court.

However, access to justice for victims and the effective exercise of participation rights before institutions established by various African legal instruments has been, and remains difficult. The tendency was, and remains, to reserve the right of referral to State Parties to the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights, or to the State Parties to the different Protocols establishing these governmental or inter-governmental jurisdictions and bodies. This is particularly relevant for those comprised of bodies established to manage human rights violations. Furthermore, even in cases where there is a possibility for individuals or organisations to directly approach relevant jurisdictions, the established legal provisions are full of procedural constraints that effectively restrict access to victims or the NGOs defending them. These actors remain hampered in their efforts to refer cases to the authorised bodies and participate directly and effectively in the proceedings initiated.

Rationale for the Side Event

Increased political violence accompanied by serious and massive human rights violations in places like South Sudan and Burundi underscore the need to develop appropriate and effective mechanism to address grave crimes in Africa. At the same time, the African Union has shown a willingness to take action to investigate, prevent, and stop these massive and serious human rights violations, including through broadening the scope of criminal acts falling under the jurisdiction of the African criminal justice system.

Accordingly, TrustAfrica partnered with the Coalition for an Effective African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Court Coalition/ CEAC) to host a convening on “Improving the African Court on Human & People’s Rights Mechanisms to Advance Justice and Victims’ Rights” in March 2016. The meeting brought together leading civil society figures, human rights advocates, and representatives of the African Commission and Court to promote civil society engagement with the ACHPR with a view to advancing victims’ rights and access to justice.

The purpose of the proposed side-event is to sustain this work and further promote civil society engagement with both the African Court and Commission with a view to advancing victims’ rights and access to justice. The main objectives of this event are to:
1. Familiarize participants with the African Court and its place within the African Human Rights system;
2. Raise awareness about the modalities for victim access and participation before the African Court;
3. Examine the new opportunities and challenges presented by the expansion of the African Human Rights system; and
4. Analyze the role of politics in influencing African human rights mechanisms and how this can be addressed by civil society and advocates.

Structure of the Event

TrustAfrica, in partnership with the Coalition for an Effective African Court (CEAC/African Court Coalition) and the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) will host a panel discussion on the margins of the African Commission Session in Banjul on Sunday, the 23 October 2016. The discussion will focus on examining and analyzing the opportunities for victims rights in the African human rights system, highlighting best practice methods of accessing both the Commission and Court, engaging the issue of political interference, and developing concrete strategies on how to advance victims’ access to justice in Africa.

Speakers

The African Court, its jurisprudence and recent developments - Judge President Sylvain Ore (AfCHPR)

Opportunities presented by the expanded mandate of the African Court – Donald Deya (PALU)

Best practice for CSOs and advocates in accessing the African Commission – Gaye Sowe (IHRDA)

Trends in Political Influence on African Human Rights Mechanisms – Ibrahima Kane (OSF)

 

PostHeaderIcon African Court Coalition sensitization mission in Banjul, November 2015

African Court Coalition sensitization mission in Banjul, The Gambia-31 October to 9 November 2015

The Coalition for an Effective African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Court Coalition/the Coalition) carried a successful sensitization mission in Banjul, the Gambia from 31 October to 9 November 2015 in line with the 57th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission).

During the mission, the Coalition met one-on-one with state representatives during the Commission session and impressed on the importance of Ratification and Declaration of the African Court Protocol in order to allow direct access to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights for Individuals and NGOs with observer status before the Commission. Representatives from the following states were met; South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mauritania, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Prior to the African Commission session, the African Court Coalition had an opportunity to attend the NGOs Forum and engage with Civil Society Organization activities on the margin and network with other Human Rights stakeholders.

The Coalition also organized a side event on the evening of 4 November at Kairaba Beach Hotel for Coalition and non-Coalition members where they debated on accountability for human rights abuses in the continent through complementarity of the African Court Protocol, the Malabo Protocol and the Rome Statute. Speakers to the side event were Prof. Frans Viljoen of the Centre for Human Rights, Pretoria University, Mr. Lloyd Kuveya of Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and Mr. Dieu-Donne Wedi Djamba of the African Court Coalition. The session was chaired by Miss Sheila Nabachwa of Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI).

7 New members were recruited to join the fast growing African Court Coalition in line with the African Court Coalition 'Bring Two' Campaign.

 

PostHeaderIcon African Court Coalition Banjul Advocacy Mission, April 2015

The African Court Coalition in collaboration with the Kenya Section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ-Kenya) carried out a successful advocacy mission in Banjul, The Gambia from 13 to 25 April 2015 in line with the 56th Ordinary Session of the African Commission.

The main objective of the mission was to impress on the importance of ratification and 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 African Court Protocol) in terms of access to justice and making the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Court) effective.

To encourage African Union member states which have ratified the African Court Protocol to make the Article 34 (6) Declaration of the Protocol as well as encouraging more states to ratify the same Protocol. The African Court Coalition met one-on-one with some state delegates during the Commission session including Kenya, Niger, Nigeria and South Africa.

The African Court Coalition participated in the NGOs Forum and the 29th African Human Rights Book Fare preceding the Commission Session. This was also an opportunity to network with other human rights stakeholders in order to deepen the African Court Coalition’s visibility and disseminate the Coalition Advocacy Booklet. Fifteen (16) new members were also recruited to join the fast growing African Court Coalition in line with the African Court Coalition ‘Bring Two’ Campaign.

The advocacy mission was conducted by Mr. Dieu-Donné Wedi Djamba, the Executive Secretary of the African Court Coalition, Mr. Edigah Kavulavu, Programme Officer at ICJ-Kenya and Mrs. Tracy Davis Wilson, a Coalition’s individual member.

The African Court Coalition was financially support by Deutsche Gesellschaftfuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.


Sahli Fadel Maya (middle), Commissioner/special rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum seekers, IDPs and migrants in Africa. Second far left, Edigah Kavulavu, Programme Officer ICJ Kenya member of the Coalition with participants at the African Commission.


From left: Irene Petras (CEO of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights), Dieu-Donné Wedi Djamba (Executive Secretary, African Court Coalition) and Blessing Gorejena (Zimbabwe NGO Forum, Southern Africa Focal Point) at the African Commission Session.

 
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