AI wants effective African Court on Human Rights

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- Amnesty International (AI) Tuesday urged the African Union (AU) Assembly of Heads of State and Government meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to ensure the establishment of an effective and functioning African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights (African Court).
Since the Protocol establishing the Court was adopted 10 June 1998, AI has consistently called on African leaders to ratify it, to nominate competent, independent and impartial judges to the Court, and provide the Court with sufficient resources once it is fully established, and ensure full cooperation with the Court.
The Protocol provides for the establishment of a human rights court with jurisdiction to hear cases challenging violations of the civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (African Charter) and relevant human rights instruments.
Under Article 3 of the Protocol, the Court is empowered to judge whether a state party has violated any of the rights contained in the African Charter, or any other relevant human rights instruments ratified by the state concerned, for which the victim seeks redress.
But as of 29 June 2004 -- more than six years after the adoption of the Protocol -- only 18 of the 53 AU member states have ratified the Protocol.
Of these, only Burkina Faso has adopted a declaration that would grant direct access to individuals and NGOs before the Court.
Moreover, only ten states have nominated judges to the Court.
"The current AU summit provides another opportunity for the Assembly to live up to its promises made during earlier summits to ensure a speedy ratification of the Protocol and to increase the protection of human rights in Africa.
These commitments are consistent with the Constitutive Act of the AU, which attaches particular significance to human rights," Amnesty International said in a press release.
The effectiveness of the Protocol will continue to be undermined by the refusal of governments that have not ratified it to make declarations that would allow individuals and NGOs direct access to the Court, AI warned.
Clearly, concrete actions by many African governments are needed to ensure the effective implementation of the Protocol and the full operationalisation of the African Court, it added.
Hence, Amnesty International urged the AU Assembly to use its Third summit to take important decisions that translate its previously expressed commitments into reality.
It called upon AU member states that have not yet ratified the Protocol establishing the African Court to do so without delay and provide the Court with full political, moral and financial support.
Additionally, AI wants AU member states, including those that have already ratified the Protocol, to make declarations accepting individual and NGO access to the African Court.

06 july 2004 13:55:00




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