Lady Justice Imani Daud Aboud, President, African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has said they have not played the required role to enhance the protection of human rights on the continent.
“As a result, we have robbed African citizens of the human rights protection they so dearly need. This, in my view, must stop, and we must look ahead with renewed hope and determination to serve the African people better.
“It was this spirit of optimism and dedication that characterized our five-day retreat by the African Court and the Commission,” Lady Justice Aboud stated in a speech delivered at the opening ceremony of the 73rd Ordinary Session and the 35th Anniversary of the African Commission on Human and People at Banjul, the Gambia.
A copy of the speech made available to the Ghana News Agency in Tema said the Ordinary Session sets the pace for deliberations on issues of human rights and engagement with various stakeholders on the human rights situation in Africa, its relationship and cooperation with National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and Specialized Institutions, as well as with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), granted Observer Status.
The 20-day Session started on October 21st and is scheduled to run all through to November 9th.
Lady Justice Aboud stated: “I want to use this platform to inform the African human rights community that at the end of the retreat we came up with concrete, realistic, and time-bound measures to be put in place to enhance complementarity and work toward improving the protection of human rights of our people.
“No one institution can boast to have a monopoly in the promotion and protection of human rights. We must work together, and that’s why we agree with the African Commission’s mantra that the protection of human rights is our collective responsibility.
“Since the establishment of the Court, more than 16 years ago, “I do not believe we have worked as envisaged in the Protocol. For 16 years, the Court has transferred only four cases to the Commission and the Commission has seized the Court with only three cases, this, in my view, is unacceptable”.
Lady Justice Aboud said: “Yes, the two organs – African Court and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights have had meetings on several occasions, yes, they have a staff-exchange programme in place.
“They exchange information and other resources on a regular basis, and contribute to the development of each other’s Rules, however, when it comes to judicial complementarity, the one envisaged in the Protocol, the record has been disappointing.”
The convening of the Ordinary Session also coincides with the commemoration of 35th anniversary since the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights was established.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights is the premier human rights body of the African Union, established under Article 30 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The founding treaty of the African Human Rights system, for the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa. Relatedly, Africa Human Rights Day is celebrated every 21st of October to mark the coming into force of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The Session allows the participation of various stakeholders across the continent who deliver statements and reports to the Commission as a mechanism to engage citizens’ in co-creating solutions and enhancing the implementation of commitments on human rights.
The stakeholders include African Union member states; non-governmental organizations; National Human Rights Institutions; civil society organizations; development partners, among others.