African Court reinforces procedure to file an application

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The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights have reiterated that the procedure for filing an application before the Continental Court may originate from the African Commission on 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 as long as the State against which the application is brought has deposited the declaration recognizing the jurisdiction of the African Court to accept cases from individuals and NGOs.

Dr Robert Eno, African Court Registrar, who outlined the procedure at African Court Media Training for Senior Editors and Journalists at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania noted that the decision whether an application to the Court can be considered or not depended on whether it dealt with a matter that was within its Jurisdiction.

“Jurisdiction is the competence of the African Court to decide on matters brought before it. The scope of the jurisdiction of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights is set out in the Protocol to the African Charter,” he stated.

According to this instrument, the African Court had material jurisdiction over allegations relating to violations of human rights contained in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights or any other human rights instrument ratified by the State concerned.

Dr Eno noted that “material jurisdiction is satisfied if the allegations relate to violations of human rights contained in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights or any other human rights instrument ratified by the State concerned.

“Personal jurisdiction refers to the entities which can bring a case before the Court. In general, that are the African Commission, State Parties to the Protocol and African Intergovernmental organizations.

“Individuals and non-governmental organizations may only directly bring cases before the Court if the State against which such application is made has made a special declaration accepting this procedure.

“Temporal jurisdiction refers to the fact that the alleged violations must have occurred after the State concerned ratified the Protocol; Territorial jurisdiction requires the alleged violations to have taken place in the State concerned”.

The African Court Registrar noted that the application should indicate the names and addresses of the person designated as the Applicant’s representative; include a summary of the facts of the case and of the evidence that will be adduced.

“Indicate clear particulars of the Applicant and of the party or parties against whom the Application has been brought; specify the alleged violation; demonstrate the evidence of exhaustion of local remedies or of the inordinate delay of such local remedies.

“Indicate the orders or injunctions sought and indicate whether an Applicant on his/her own behalf or on behalf of the victim wishes to be granted reparations”.

The African Court Media Network were therefore tasked to serve as frontline advocates in their respective countries to ensure that citizens benefitted from the mandate of the continental court.

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