Posts Tagged ‘The State of African Regional Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms’

Amnesty documents continued undermining of regional human rights mechanisms in Africa

October 21, 2020

For a second consecutive year, Amnesty International has documented how African governments are grossly undermining regional human rights bodies by failing to comply with their decisions, ignoring their urgent appeals, neglecting to report to them on national human rights situations and starving them of resources they desperately need for operations. Governments also neglected the rights of people with disabilities and older persons by failing to ratify treaties relating to their protection.

In the second edition of The State of African Regional Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms 2019-2020released on the African Human Rights Day, Amnesty International said the mechanisms established to safeguard human rights across the continent are facing enormous challenges, and at least one is facing an existential threat. [for last year’s see:]

Given the magnitude of gross human rights violations across the continent, regional human rights bodies play a critical role in providing justice and accountability,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Director for Research and Advocacy.

“These mechanisms must be protected and fully supported. They serve as vital alternative channels for people to seek justice and effective remedies when national systems are compromised or inadequate.” 

Amnesty International’s report reviews and analyses the performance of Africa’s human rights treaty bodies:  the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission); the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (African Children’s Committee); and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Court).

Existential crisis for African human rights court 

The report raises alarm that future of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights is in jeopardy following decisions by three governments – Benin, Côte d’Ivoire and Tanzania – to withdraw the right of individuals and NGOs to directly file cases before the court. Rwanda withdrew this right in 2016 bringing to four the number of countries that are now restricting access to this vital pathway to justice.

Amnesty International found that Benin, Côte d’Ivoire and Tanzania withdrew this right in response to decisions they perceived as unfavorable, and amid rising intolerance towards human rights defenders and a general deterioration of human rights conditions nationally…..


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:]

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