Posts Tagged ‘African Union’

The State of the African Regional Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms

October 21, 2019

African rights bodies are frustrated at every turn by the lack of cooperation and support from African Union (AU) member states who desperately try to undermine their independence and autonomy, according to a new report published by Amnesty International. The new report, The State of African Regional Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms, found that the continent’s rights bodies are working in harsh conditions whereby their decisions are blatantly ignored and their pleas for proper funding and human resources persistently fall on deaf ears.

[see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/10/11/the-ngo-forum-and-the-65th-session-of-the-african-commission-on-human-and-peoples-rights/]

Africa’s human rights bodies are being wilfully subverted. The African Union’s Executive Council must resist these efforts and take its responsibility to monitor and enforce compliance with the decisions of the human rights mechanisms seriously,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Director for Research and Advocacy.

The report offers an assessment of the performance of three of Africa’s regional human rights institutions between January 2018 and June 2019: the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission); the African Child Rights Committee; and the African Court.

It found that out of the continent’s 54 countries, five (Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe and Somalia) have not submitted a single report on the human rights situation in their countries since they ratified the Africa Charter for Human and People’s Rights. Many countries that submitted their human rights reports to the African Commission during the reporting period did so after delays in excess of a decade. Gambia and Eritrea set records by submitting their reports 21 and 19 years late respectively.

In the timeframe in review, the African Commission sent 83 urgent appeals to states over concerns of human rights violations. Of these only 26 (31 percent) received a written response. The African Commission further requested 27 country visits, of which only 13 were authorized in principle, and just five materialized.

Despite facing many stubborn challenges, African human rights bodies registered a relatively impressive record in developing new norms and standards including developing a draft treaty on the rights to social protection and social security. The African Commission also published seminal studies on transitional justice and on human rights in conflicts. The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Court) issued 25 decisions. However, only Burkina Faso had fully complied with the court’s decisions by the end of the reporting period. Some countries, including Tanzania, partially complied, while Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Libya and Rwanda didn’t comply at all.

Both the African Commission and the African Court face a chronic backlog problem because of a slow pace in determining cases. They must urgently develop plans to speed up determinations and ensure strict adherence to time limits for parties, especially state parties,” said Netsanet Belay.

The report also highlights an onslaught on human rights defenders in Africa. Between January 2018 and June 2019, appeals for protection of HRDs accounted for 71 percent of all appeals issued to state parties by the African Commission. HRDs in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Egypt were the worst hit, the Africa Commission issuing 11 and 10 urgent appeals respectively to their governments. These were closely followed by Burundi with seven urgent appeals, Cameroon and Algeria each with six, and Uganda and Sudan, each with five appeals.

It is extremely alarming that governments across Africa have singled out human rights defenders to try to silence them and bring an end to their activism through brutal attacks, harassment, unlawful arrest and detention. Attacks on human rights defenders are an attack on the rights of all the people whose freedoms they are fighting for.
Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Director for Research and Advocacy

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https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/10/africa-states-frustrate-continental-rights-bodies-efforts-to-uphold-human-rights/

UN and NGOs try to deal with Burundi on 17 December

December 16, 2015

Tomorrow 17 December there will be a Special session of the Human Rights Council on preventing further deterioration [now that is diplomatic language!] of the human rights situation in Burundi. The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) is using the occasion to organize a side event on:  “Escalation of Violence in Burundi: Human rights defenders voices from the ground” from 09.00-10.00 am in Room XII, Palais des Nations, Geneva. It will be webcast live on www.ishr.ch/webcast. Follow on twitter using the hash-tag #BurundiHRDs.ISHR-logo-colour-high

Panelists (moderator Nicolas Agostini of FIDH):

  • Mr Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Incarcerated Persons (APRODH), MEA Laureate 2007.
  • Ms Margaret Barankitse, Maison Shalom
  • Mr Anschaire Nikoyagize, Ligue ITEKA
  • Ms Carina Tertsakian, Human Rights Watch
There has been almost unanimity on the need for international attention and action. For those who want to see some of the major reports that came out recently, see the summary below. See also my earlier post: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/11/10/burundi-what-more-early-warning-does-one-need/

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Memorandum for the African Union-European Union Dialogue on Human Rights

November 20, 2013

On 19 November Human Rights Watch published a lengthy Memorandum on priorities it wants the African Union & the European Union to address in their upcoming Dialogue on Human Rights. In view of its length I give only

HRW_logo

the headings and a reference to the full document, except of course for the section specifically dealing with Human Rights Defenders.

The fight against impunity for international crimes in Africa: No ‘Free Pass’ for leaders say Human Rights Defenders

November 18, 2013

Today, 18 November, a group of 14 Africa-based NGOs came out with a strong statement supporting the ICC which has its annual meeting coming up 20-28 November in the Hague: “African governments should reject special exemptions for sitting officials before the International Criminal Court (ICC)“, African organizations and international organizations with a presence in Africa said in a document released today. The ICC faces important challenges in Africa. In October the African Union said that the trials of Kenya’s president and vice president, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, should be suspended

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ICC should continue its work in Africa, says Tutu in N.Y.Times

October 14, 2013

While 130 NGOs in Africa and elsewhere call in a joint letter to the African Union not to abandon the International Criminal Court, Bishop Desmond Tutu publishes in the New York Times of 10 October an excellent piece explaining why it is a terrible mistake. Here is it is in full:

 

CAPE TOWN — MEMBERS of the African Union will meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, today to discuss recent calls by some African leaders to withdraw from the International Criminal Court. These calls must be resisted. The continent has suffered the consequences of unaccountable governance for too long to disown the protections offered by the I.C.C. Read the rest of this entry »

Human Rights Advocacy Group launched for Ethiopia, Benshangul, Gambela, Ogaden Somali, Oromo, Shakacho and Sidama

September 29, 2013

The Ogaden OnLine reports the following on 29 September:

We, the peoples of Benshangul, Gambella, Ogaden Somali, Oromo, Shakacho and Sidama nations unanimously agree to form Human Rights Advocacy Group [HRAG] in order to advocate for the Human Rights of the member communities and other oppressed peoples by the Ethiopian government. HRAG will tirelessly campaign harnessing the combined resources of the aforementioned communities and other support groups. It will expose the crimes the Ethiopian government is committing against the defenceless communities of these peoples, including land grabbing and displacement, mass executions, extra-judicial killings, rampant rape, mass detentions and use of aid as a weapon to gain compliance to the regime marginalization policies. HRAG will conduct targeted advocacy campaign that includes data gathering, advocacy works directed at countries of the world, Human Rights defenders, the AU and the United Nations, and will encourage more vigorous and joint campaigns by all the communities concerned. HRAG informs that the current situation in Ethiopia is very dire and unless urgent measures are taken, a crisis far worse than any seen so far in Africa will unfold. Therefore, HRAG calls the international community, in particular Donor countries, the AU and the UN and EU to make the Ethiopian government accountable for its flagrant Human Rights violations.Finally, HRAG calls upon all peoples in Ethiopia to stand up together and confront the perpetrators.Justice for all nations and nationalities.

While any new group with a focus on the defense of human rights is welcome – and in view of the means employed by the Ethiopian government also needed – the statement would have gained from a clear position that violent means will not be employed or advocated.

via Ogaden Online: The official homepage of Ogaden on the Internet – Human Rights Advocacy Group HRAG.

Death of Floribert Chebeya and Fidèle Bazana in DRC still unresolved after 3 years

June 10, 2013

It has been 3 years since Floribert Chebeya and Fidèle Bazana were killed at the hands of the Police of the Democratic Republic of Congo, after been summoned by the Head of the Police, General John Protection Int'I_logo_final_vertical_72dpiNumbi. To date, the Congolese Military Justice, who deals with this matter, has refused to prosecute General Numbi and has merely judged his accomplices even though it knows the truth, thereby showing total allegiance to the political and military regime. Specific and detailed revelations of one of the protagonists on this case, Commander Paul Mwilambwe, leaves no doubt about on the subject. Read the rest of this entry »

Zambian Civil Society Groups Request Review of Human Rights Policy

March 6, 2013

Just an example of how politics and elections interact with the role of human rights defenders, always a touchy subject:

After the Zambian Police arrested and charged Zambia’s opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema, on 27 January 2013, seven 7 Civil Society Organisations in Zambia have called upon the Zambia’s Human Rights Commission, Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union, the Commonwealth and “other human rights defenders” to review Zambia’s human rights record and denounce the violations by the Zambian Government. The organisations have also called upon the Electoral Commission of Zambia to cancel by-elections in Livingstone and Mpongwe in accordance with Section 28 of the Electoral Act No. 12 of 2002. Reading the statement during the Press Briefing at FODEP House in Lusaka on behalf of the 7 organisations the Young African Leaders Initiative  President Andrew Ntewewe, called on the Deputy Inspector General of Police to immediately resign for violating fundamental political rights which are guaranteed by the Constitution of Zambia when he banned political rallies in the Livingstone. With a strong sense of exaggeration the organisations have advised the Zambian Police Command to resist the temptation of “turning the Police Service into a unit similar to NAZIs Gestapo under Hitler in Germany”. The 7 organisations have lambasted the Zambia Police for their continued unprofessionalism in handling matters that border on freedom of expression, assembly, movement and association. The organisations that appended their signatures to the statement included; Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), Operation Young Vote (OYV), Anti-Voter Apathy Project (AVAP), Southern Centre for Construction Resolutions of Disputes (SACCORD), Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), the Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue (ZCID) and the Zambia National Womens Lobby Group (ZNWLG).

via allAfrica.com: Zambia: Civil Society Groups Request Review of Human Rights.

Africa: Strong Stand Taken By the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights

May 22, 2012

Français : Logo de la Fédération International...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) welcomes the strong stand taken by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on the political, security and humanitarian confllicts and crises raging on the continent, at its 51st Session. FIDH now urges African Union (AU) Member States to give immediate effect to the recently adopted resolutions. The document published by allAfrica.com refers to the recent conflict between Sudan and South Sudan  the unconstitutional changes of government that lately occured in Mali and Guinea-Bissau, the territorial integrity of Mali and a West African region where several armed groups, like in Nigeria, still perpetrate violations. On HRDs the document of FIDH states the following:

The African Commission considered with a particular attention the civil and political rights’ violations happening in several countries. The Commission condemned the recurring impediment to Human rights defenders’ action in countries like Ethiopia – where the Charities and Civil Societies Proclamation adopted in 2009 continues to place excessive restrictions on Human rights organisations’ work – Swaziland – where authorities keep opposing the fundamental rights to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association – and Somalia, where journalists are taken in the grip of the ongoing armed conflict and are openly murdered. The FIDH welcomes the African Commission’s clear call for the amendment of the Ethiopian Charities and Civil Societies Proclamation, for the respect of the rights to fundamental freedoms in Swaziland and for justice to be rendered to the murdered journalists in Somalia. All these recommandations were supported by our organisation.

for the full document go to: allAfrica.com: Africa: Strong Stand Taken By the African Court On Human and Peoples Rights On the Crises Situations Raging On the African Continent.