African Union must remove access to African Court impediments

African Court
African Court

The African Union Executive Council has been tasked to repeal Article 34(6) of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The law which requires that State Parties to the Protocol make a separate declaration in order to allow direct access to individuals and non-governmental organizations to bring cases against has been classified as an impediment to the implementation of the African Court’s decisions.

Delegates attending the International Conference on the implementation and impact of decisions of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights:

Challenges and prospects at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania were unanimous in identifying article 34(6) as the main hindrance to the operations of the courts decisions.

Various speakers mainly: judges, lawyers, academia, civil society organisation and other strategic stakeholders on human rights identified the article as a challenge and question why such a requirement and urged African Union states to initiate the process towards repealing the inhibiting law to make the African Court more beneficial to the public.

Some delegates classified the Article 34(6) as opening a door way to Africans to enter and seek for human rights remedies at the African Court but, using an indoor not visible to outsiders to restrict your entry.

African Governments must demonstrate their commitment to upholding the tenets of human rights by repealing article 34(6) to make way for entry.

Dr Boniphace Nalija Luhende, Deputy Solicitor General, United Republic of Tanzania noted that even though Tanzania withdrew its declaration under Article 34(6) of the Protocol in 2019, it has however not affected about 156 pending cases before the African Court.

He said Tanzania which is the host of the African Court, remained ann allied to the spirit and mandate of the African Court and was bound by Article 30 of the Protocol establishing the Court, which obliged state parties to comply with the judgement and guarantee its execution.

He said orders of the African Court were contrary to the reservation raised in “our declaration under Article 34(6) of the protocol establishing the African Court: the declaration entitled NGOs and individuals to institute cases directly before it.

“However, Tanzania made a reservation that such entitlement should only be granted to such NGOs and individuals once all domestic remedies have been exhausted and in adherence to the Tanzanian Constitution.”

Some of the speakers included: Mr Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi, Chairperson of the Constitutional Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Ghana’s Parliament who spoke on experiences from the legislature on implementation of the African Court decisions.

Advocate Bahame Tom Nyanduga, Acting Chairperson African Union Watch who shared experiences from civil society; and experiences from the executive was shared by Mohamed Maouloud Najim, Director of Legal Affairs and Keeper of the Seals, Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, Mali.

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