The African Court on Human and People’s Rights on Tuesday commended President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for the nomination of a seasoned and accomplished Judge, Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo as the Chief Justice of Ghana.
Justice Sylvain Oré, President of the African Court in an interview with the Ghana News Agency described her as a noble Judge with strong convictions and commitment to deliver justice to all persons irrespective of status.
He recounted that Justice Akuffo was first elected as an African Court Judge in 2006 for a two-year term and re-elected in 2008 for a six-year term.
Justice Ore said as result of her hard work and dedication to the cause of the African Court, she was later elected as Vice-President of the African Court in September 2008 for a two-year term and re-elected in September 2010 for a final two-year term.
“After serving her final two-year term as Vice President, the rest of the Judges acknowledged her inspiring leadership role and therefore Justice Akuffo was elected as the President of the African Court on September 18, 2012 for a two-year term,” he recounted.
Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo was the third President of the African Court after Justice Gérard Niyungeko of Burundi had served from 2006-2008; and 2010-2012; and Justice Jean Mutsinzi of Rwanda from 2008-2010.
The African Court is a continental court established by African countries to ensure the protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa and complements and reinforces the functions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
It 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 Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in June 1998. The Protocol came into force on 25 January 2004.
As at May 2017, only eight of the 30 States Parties to the Protocol had made the declaration recognising the competence of the African Court to receive cases from NGOs and individuals.
The eight States are; Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Malawi, Tanzania and Republic of Tunisia.
The 22 States which have ratified the Protocol but reluctant to sign the declaration recognising the Competence of the African Court to receive cases from NGOs and Individuals are: Algeria, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Kenya, Libya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Nigeria, Niger, Rwanda, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, South Africa, Senegal, Togo, and Uganda.
The African Court has jurisdiction over all cases and disputes submitted to it concerning the interpretation and application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, (the Charter), the Protocol and any other relevant human rights instrument ratified by the States concerned and is composed of eleven Judges, nationals of Member States of the African Union.
The Judges of the African Court are elected, after nomination by their respective States, in their individual capacities, from among African jurists of proven integrity and of recognised practical, judicial or academic competence and experience in the field of human rights.
The Judges of the African Court elect from among themselves, a President and Vice-President, who serve a two year term. They can be re-elected only once.
The President of the African Court resides and works on a full time basis at the seat of the Court, while the other ten Judges work on a part-time basis.
In the accomplishment of his/her duties, the President is assisted by a Registrar who performs registry, managerial and administrative functions of the Court.
The Court may receive cases filed by the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights, State parties to the Protocol or African Intergovernmental Organizations.
Non-Governmental Organisations 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 recognising the jurisdiction of the Court to accept cases from individuals and NGOs.
As at March 2017, the Court had received 124 applications and finalised 32 cases. Currently, the Court has 92 pending cases and four Requests for advisory opinion.