LUCAS BARASA | WEDNESDAY APRIL 5, 2017 | DAILY NATION
The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) is actively pushing for more countries to grant their citizens the rights to access it in order to promote justice on the continent. The Arusha-based court is set to undertake sensitisation visits to Egypt between Sunday and Tuesday next week before moving on to Tunisia.
A statement from the court affirmed that AfCHPR members will hold discussions with various players to promote this venture.
“During (these) Missions, the Court delegation will pay courtesy calls on the Presidents, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Ministers of Justice and the Speakers of Parliament, among others,” the statement read.
AfCHPR President Sylvain Oré stressed the benefits of the sensitisation efforts both in raising awareness of the court’s existence and also encouraging more AU member states to ratify the protocol and draft the declaration to allow individuals and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to access the court directly. ‘’For the Court to achieve its objectives and further strengthen African human rights systems, a greater number of countries must ratify the Protocol and make the declaration under Article 34(6),’’ he said.
Since December 2010, the court has carried out region-wide promotion programmes that have seen it undertake 25 sensitisation visits so far and hold 12 regional seminars and conferences.
Though the main objective of the sensitisation visits is enhancing and protecting human rights in Africa, more specific objectives include raising public awareness about the court and encouraging the ratification of the Protocol and deposit of the Declaration that allows individuals and NGOs direct access to the court.
Other objectives are sensitising would-be applicants on how to access the court and the procedures before the court and encouraging the public to utilise the court in settling human rights disputes and encouraging the utilisation of the court for advisory opinions. AfCHPR was established to complement the protective mandate of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights with a view to enhancing the protection of human rights on the continent.
Since the Protocol’s adoption in June 1998, only 30 of the 55 AU member states have ratified it and only seven state parties to the Protocol have made the Declaration under Article 34(6). However, the success of the court as a human rights protection mechanism requires much wider ratification of the Protocol by member states, as well as their acceptance of the competence of the court by making the Declaration under Article 34(6).
This “universal” ratification will give the court the legitimacy it needs to effectively discharge its mandate.
Egypt signed the Protocol establishing the court in February 1999 but is yet to ratify it and make a Declaration while Tunisia followed suit in August 2007 but is also yet to make a Declaration under Article 34(6).