The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) is actively pushing for more countries to award their citizens the rights to access it in order to promote justice in the continent.
The Arusha-based court is set to undertake sensitisation visits to Egypt between Sunday and Tuesday next week prior to undertaking the same exercise in Tunisia.
A statement from the court affirmed that the 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 drafting 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 which have seen it undertake 25 sensitisation visits so far and hold 12 regional seminars and conferences.
Despite the main objective of the sensitisation visits being the enhancement and protection of human rights in Africa, more specific objectives include raising public awareness about the Court; encouraging the ratification of the Protocol and deposit of the Declaration that allows individuals and NGOs direct access to the Court; sensitizing would-be applicants on how to access the Court and the procedures before the Court; encouraging the public to utilize the Court in settling human rights disputes and encouraging the utilization of the Court for advisory opinions.
AfCHPR was established to complement the protective mandate of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights; which has a view to enhancing the protection of human rights on the continent.
Since the Protocol’s adoption in June 1998, merely 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).