Sunday 8 January 2017

The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights. Possibly the most important Pan African court 'no-one' has heard of..

The African Court on Human and Peoples Rights was established in 1998,  and entered into force on 25 January 2004;  once ratified by 15 countries.
Whilst many of you will be familiar with the ICC, it's highly likely that many of you will be less familiar with the 'African Court'.

I know I was.

So... ( Avoiding any BBC Period Drama)  I checked it out.
Surely a court set up to defend human and peoples rights ( not sure what the difference is  as people are human after all, ...but nevermind) would be a great thing.. no?

The Vision is clear and honourable:

  • The vision of the Court is an Africa with a viable human rights culture.

The Core Values are clear and honourable:

Core values

  • Judicial independence from any partisanship, bias, influence, whether it comes from States, NGOs, funding agencies or individuals.
  • Fair and impartial application and interpretation of the provisions of the African Charter, the Protocol, the Rules and other relevant international human rights instruments.
  • Transparent and ethical accountability in the operations of the Court.
  • Fundamental rights of every individual to enjoy basic civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights are upheld.
  • Collaboration with relevant stakeholders in pursuance of the Court’s objective of protecting human and peoples’ rights.
  • Non-discrimination and equality in performance of the work of the Court.
  • Integrity of the Judges and staff working at the Court.
  • Provide equal access to all potential users of the Court.
  • Be responsive to the needs of those who approach the Court.
  • Strategic objectives[edit]
  • Exercise jurisdiction in all cases and disputes brought before it concerning the interpretation and application of the Charter, the protocol and any other relevant instrument relating to human rights ratified by the States concerned;
  • Collaborate with sub-regional and national judicial bodies to enhance the protection of human rights on the continent;
  • To enhance the participation of the African people in the work of the Court;
  • To enhance the capacity of the Registry of the Court to be able to fulfill its mandate; and
  • To enhance working relationship between the Court and the African Commission.

What's not clear is why so few people know of this court and why out of 54 member states, only 7 will allow individuals and NGOs to files cases.

The seven states are:
Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Malawi, Rwanda and Tanzania.

States that have ratified the Protocol include;  Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Lesotho, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Nigeria, Niger, Rwanda, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, South Africa, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia and Uganda.

But Is this court really a court at all?
Or a case of an overly complicated and bureaucratic system of virtual democracy?
Bureaucracy.... we've all been there. Many have rolled their eyes ( inwardly) at an overly long or pointless meeting or two, filled in forms that will instruct us to fill in another, and yes, whilst it's possible that these systems are designed with  the best of intentions to ensure accountability, transparency and good practice. In truth, more often than not, they can be a hindrance to real progress.

In truth... how many courts does 'Africa' need?.
Individual countries have their own legal systems, and whilst this overarching ( Pan African) court of protection of people's rights may make sense on paper, if, in more serious cases, individuals cannot file a case.. then what's the point?.

To be fair, those who devised the court must know its  purpose..
but as we know...he who pays the piper ...plays the tune...
( the court is funded by member states)

Sorry to say it but this court simply has no teeth
Either that.. or it needs better PR :)

Anyway...congratulations to the Court on its 10yr Anniversary

Sources: Aljazeera, A.U, Wikpedia
African Charter on Democracy , Elections and Governance

1 comment:

  1. confused. but even more confusing is a report this morning (bbc world service) of former Chad president, Hissene Habre, who was sentenced to a life sentence by the "Extraordinary African Chambers" (CAE) court in Senegal. CAE? fascinating case that one

    Nice one, I'm going to look into it