The Coalition for an Effective African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Court Coalition) has called for support for the implementation of the Maputo Protocol on the rights of women in Africa 20 years after its adoption.
The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, also known as the Maputo Protocol on Women’s Rights, provides comprehensive rights for women and girls in Africa.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Algiers, Algeria, on the sidelines of the just-ended Sixth African Union Judicial Dialogue, Ms. Sophia Ebby, African Court Coalition Coordinator, explained that the Protocol guaranteed extensive rights to women.
She said civil society organization, governmental and non-governmental entities must support the protocol by adopting and putting in place pragmatic measures towards its implementation, which included the right of women to take part in political processes.
Ms. Ebby said women’s social and political equality with men, improved autonomy in their reproductive health decisions, and an end to harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation, among others, must be eliminated where they still exist.
The African Court Coalition Coordinator noted that the Maputo Protocol also provided a wide spectrum of civil, political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights and is considered one of the most progressive human rights instruments globally.
She said, despite positive achievements registered recently in decision-making, women make up the largest proportion of our population.
“Women still remain vulnerable, at-risk, and impoverished due to the challenges caused by social, economic, cultural, and political marginalization, gender-based violence and discrimination against women, terrorism, conflict, and fundamentalism,” Ms. Ebby noted.
Explaining the role of the African Court Coalition, Ms. Ebby said it is a membership-based organisation made up of Civil Society Organisations, independent human rights institutions, and individual members advocating an effective and independent African Court.
She said the Coalition was formed in May 2003 in Niamey, Niger during the first conference to promote the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Establishment of an African Court.
Ms. Ebby said the coalition had an interest in and commitment to a strong human rights protection mechanism in Africa.
“Our main objectives are to secure full ratification of the Protocol establishing the African Court and ensure that judges are nominated and elected in a transparent manner.
“We also provide a forum for civil society to actively participate in the establishment of the African Court and provide technical support to the African Union (AU) and the African Court,” she noted.
Ms. Ebby said since 2003, the coalition had undertaken a number of strategic activities geared towards the effective functioning of the continent’s first human rights court.
It had also undertaken a number of awareness-raising programmes with governments and conducted research on the need to nominate competent judges to the Court in line with the AU’s guidelines on nominations.