First Colloquium and Third General Assembly
The Coalition for an Effective African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Court Coalition/the Coalition) together with The Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ Kenya) and Rencontre Africaine pour la Defénse des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO) successfully organized the first Colloquium of the African Court Coalition themed; “Building the Court we want: Reflecting on perspectives of the proposed African Court with criminal jurisdiction” on the 12 of March 2015 and the 3rd General Assembly on the following day (13 March 2015). Both events were held at the Mount Meru Hotel in Arusha Tanzania.
The First Colloquium
The Colloquium aimed at exploring avenues for redress in the fight against impunity provided in the Malabo Protocol that was adopted in June 2014 at the ordinary summit of the AU as well as reflecting on the concerns amongst stakeholders and their expectations regarding the capacity of the Court to effectively fight impunity in the continent.
This was a forum that brought together civil society organizations, lawyers, scholars, donors and other potential stakeholders. In attendant was also the Judge President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights; Justice Agustino Ramadhani who gave a key note speech and opened the Colloquium.
Presenters to the Colloquium included; Mr. Dzimbabwe Chimbga (Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights-Zimbabwe), Mr. Dieu-Donne Wedi Djamba (African Court Coalition), Mr. George Kegoro (ICJ-Kenya) Dr. Tarisai Mutangi (Zimbabwe), Dr. Chacha Bhoke Murungu (University of Dodoma-Tanzania), Mr. Don Deya (Pan-African Lawyers Union), Prof. Frans Viljoen (University of Pretoria), Mr. Japhet Biegon (Amnesty International), Mr. Alphonse Van (Former Senior Appeal Counsel, Office of the Prosecutor- ICTR) and Mr. Hassan Bility (Global Justice and Research Project-Liberia).
As per its aims to promote the protection of human rights as well as access to justice for victims of human rights violation in the continent, the Coalition will support not only the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights but also the coming Court with extended jurisdiction that will cover criminal matters amongst others (African Court of Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights). Colloquium debates allowed the Coalition to identify strategies both at national and African Union level to work toward an effective coming Court. These strategies will be developed to engage with the Malabo Protocol in strengthening positive aspects of the Malabo Protocol and weakening negative aspects of the same Protocol in order to realize the effectiveness of the coming Court in the fight against impunity and access to justice in Africa.
The 3rd General Assembly
Members and invited guests attended the African Court Coalition 3rd General Assembly of which the main agenda was presentation of activity and financial reports from the Chairperson and election of new Executive Committee Members as well as new Focal Points to serve for the period of three years as provided under the Coalition Constitution.
Following organisations were candidates for the Executive Committee:
• Pan-African Lawyers Union (PALU), Arusha, Tanzania;
• Tanganyika Law Society, Arusha, Tanzania;
• East Africa Law Society, Arusha, Tanzania;
• Southern Africa Litigation Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa;
• Centre des Droits de l’Homme et du Développement – Brazzaville, R. Congo;
• Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Harare, Zimbabwe;
• Centre pour la Promotion de la Démocratie et le Défense des Droits de I’Homme (CDDH), Libreville, Gabon ;
• Avocats Sans Frontières-Senegal, Dakar, Senegal ;
• Tanganyika Law Society- Arusha, Tanzania.
The following organisations were candidates for Focal Points:
• Southern Africa Focal Point: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum – Harare, Zimbabwe;
• Northern Africa Focal Point: Centre d’Information et de Documentation sur les Droits de l’Enfant et de la Femme (CIDDEF) – Algiers, Algeria;
• Eastern Africa Focal Point: Somaliland Lawyers Association – Hargeisa, Somaliland,Somalia;
• Central Africa Focal Point: Association de Droits de l’Homme et l’Univers Carcéral (ADHUC), CongoBrazzaville;
• Lusophone Focal Point: Associação Justiça, Paz e Democracia (AJPD), Luanda, Angola;
• National Human Rights Institution Focal Point: Institute for Human Rights Development in Africa (IHRDA), Banjul, the Gambia;
• Western Africa Focal Point: Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), Lagos, Nigeria.
Given the limited numbers of new candidacies for the Executive Committee and Focal Points, the General Assembly took a resolution to elect for 3 years (2015-2018) term organisations which stood for elections for the positions in the Executive Committee as well as Focal Points including those which had already served for 2 terms consecutively. Also, given the fact that number of candidacy for the Executive Committee was 8 instead of at least 9 in order to get 9 members as provided by the Coalition’s Constitution, the General Assembly also decided that a ninth member of the Executive Committee will be nominated by the newly elected Executive Committee. The Executive Committee will nominate the ninth in the next 2 weeks following the General Assembly.
The General Assembly also took the resolution to amend the Coalition’s Constitution and decided that the Coalition will organise an extraordinary General Assembly in 2017 to adopt those amendments. The extraordinary General Assembly will be held together with the Second Colloquium of the Coalition.
Below is the list of the Executive Committee Members and Focal Points of the Coalition that will serve for three years; 2015-2018; The next elective General Assembly will be held in 2018.
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBERS
• Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Harare, Zimbabwe [Chairperson]
• Centre pour la Promotion de la Démocratie et le Défense des Droits de I’Homme (CDDH) - Libreville, Gabon [Vice Chairperson]
• Avocats Sans Frontières-Senegal, Dakar, Senegal [Legal Affairs Sub-Committee]
• Pan-African Lawyers Union (PALU), Arusha, Tanzania [Legal Affairs Sub-Committee &Finance and Administration Sub-Committee]
• Tanganyika Law Society, Arusha, Tanzania [Finance and Administration Sub-Committee]
• East Africa Law Society, Arusha, Tanzania [Finance and Administration Sub-Committee]
• Southern Africa Litigation Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa [Membership Sub-Committee]
• Centre des Droits de l’Homme et du Développement, Congo Brazzaville [Membership Sub-Committee]
• Lusophone Focal Point: Associação Justiça, Paz e Democracia (AJPD), Luanda, Angola
• National Human Rights Institution Focal Point: Institute for Human Rights Development in Africa (IHRDA), Banjul, the Gambia
• Western Africa Focal Point: Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), Lagos, Nigeria
• Southern Africa Focal Point: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Harare, Zimbabwe
• Northern Africa Focal Point: Centre d’Information et de Documentation sur les Droits de l’Enfant et de la Femme (CIDDEF), Algiers, Algeria
• Eastern Africa Focal Point: Somaliland Lawyers Association, Hargeisa, Somaliland, Somalia
• Central Africa Focal Point: Association de Droits de l’Homme et l’Univers Carcéral (ADHUC), CongoBrazzaville
The Coalition is grateful to Trust Africa for its financial support
Participants at the Third General Assembly
Strengthening the Protection of Women's Rights in West Africa
Strengthening the Protection of Women's Rights in West Africa: Regional Training and Advocacy Workshop on the Rules of Procedure of the African Court, the African Commission and ECOWAS Court of Justice, Dakar, Senegal: 24-25 February 2015
The Coalition for an Effective African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (The African Court Coalition) in partnership with Senegalese Association of Female Jurists (AJS) carried out a training and Advocacy workshop in Darkar, Senegal from 24 to 25 February 2015.
The main objective of the Mission was towards strengthening the protection of women rights in West Africa by educating and creating awareness on the rights of women and relevant procedures to be followed in redressing violations of such rights through judicial remedies that are available locally, regionally and continentally.
The regional training and advocacy workshop was combined of a one day training-advocacy on women's rights and available remedies in the African Charter and the Maputo Protocol, and a one day training workshop on the Rules of Procedure of the African Court, African Commission and the ECOWAS Court of Justice.
Also included was the mapping of potential women's rights cases to be brought before the appropriate African regional or continental judicial or quasi-judicial mechanism. One potential case from Ghana to be submitted before the African Court, two potential cases from Senegal to be submitted before the African Commission and one potential from Senegal to be submitted before the ECOWAS Court of Justice were identified.
Training and Advocacy Workshop was financially supported by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS).
(Full report to be released later)
African Court Coalition Advocacy Mission on the margins of the 24th AU Summit
The Coalition for an Effective African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Court Coalition) carried a successful advocacy mission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 19 to 31 January 2015 prior and during the 24th African Union (AU) Summit.
The main objective of the Mission was to impress on African Union state members the importance of ratification and declaration under Article 34 (6) of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Protocol) in terms of access to justice and making the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Court) more effective.
During the mission, the African Court Coalition met with state representatives and encouraged member states which have ratified the Protocol to deposit the required Declaration under Article 34 (6) and those which have not ratified to do so. The African Court Coalition attended meetings organised by NGOs in the margin of the African Union Summit.
The African Court Coalition was able to meet with different embassies and representatives of the African Union in Addis Ababa and these include;
The embassies included;
During the Mission, the African Court Coalition distributed materials, these being the African Court Coalition Publication and the African Court Protocol Advocacy Booklet.
The Coalition also used this mission as an opportunity to popularize its work and build a wider network with other Human Rights stake holders as well as give updates on developments at the African Court.
In realization of access to justice for all through the African Court as well as its effectiveness, the Coalition will continue to carry out advocacy missions for ratification and declaration of the Protocol establishing this important African human rights institution.
This Advocacy Mission was financially supported by the African Court Coalition Membership Fees.
African Court ruled in favour of Journalist
African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights Rules In Favour Of Burkina Faso Journalist in Defamation Application
The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) has ruled unanimously in favour of the Applicant (a Journalist) in a matter of Lohé Issa Konaté (Applicant) v. Burkina Faso (Respondent State), Application No 004/2013 in a judgment delivered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Friday 5 December, 2014.
The Judges ruled that the Respondent State violated Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 66(2)(c) of the Revised Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Treaty.
The Applicant was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment by the Ouagadougou High Court, for three articles he published in L’Ouragan Weekly in August 2012, over alleged corrupt practices of the Prosecutor of Faso, Mr. Placide Nikiema. The 12 months sentence was confirmed by the Ouagadougou Court of Appeal. He was also ordered to pay about 6 million CFA Francs (an equivalent of 12,000 USD), comprising of fines, damages and cost. The Newspaper was also slapped a six months suspension from publication.
The Applicant filed a case before the AfCHPR in June 2013 claiming that the jail term, damages as well as court costs violated his right to freedom of expression which is protected under various treaties to which Burkina Faso is party, including African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
In its judgment, the Court held that all sentences pronounced by the Ouagadougou High Court and confirmed by the Court of Appeal "were disproportionate to the aim pursued by the relevant provisions of the Information Code and the Burkinabe Penal Code."
The Court added: "Since the conduct of Burkinabe courts fall squarely on the Respondent State, the Court is of the view that the latter failed in its obligation to comply with the provisions of Article 9 of the Charter, Article 19 of the Covenant and the Article 66(2)(c) of the revised ECOWAS Treaty with regards to the Applicant."
In the landmark ruling, the Court has ordered Burkina Faso to amend its legislation in order to make it comply with the above Articles and to report back to the Court within two years.
Press Release: African Court 8/12/2014
African Court Coalition Advocacy Seminar held in Lusaka, November 2014
African Court Coalition Advocacy Seminar held in Lusaka, Zambia, 20-21 November 2014
The Coalition for an Effective African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights (African Court Coalition) together with its Southern Africa Focal Point, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum in collaboration with Women and Laws in Southern Africa (WLSA) successfully carried out an advocacy seminar on the ratification of the Protocol establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights (the Protocol) and deposit of the Declaration under article 34(6) of the same Protocol on 20-21 November 2014 at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Lusaka, Zambia.
This advocacy seminar came after the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights (the Court) sensitization mission in Zambia last month within the Court’s program to sensitize countries that are still lagging behind in the process of ratification of the Protocol and deposit of the Article 34(6) Declaration.
The main objective of the advocacy seminar was to increase awareness of the African Court's work as well as the work of the African Court Coalition and uphold the protection and promotion of human rights in Zambia.
Participants to the advocacy seminar included 35 persons from different fields such as civil society organizations, members from Zambia Bar association, a Supreme Court judge, a magistrate, representatives from the Zambian Parliament, a representative from Human Rights Commission, representatives from the Ministry of Justice, religious leaders, university students, university professors and media personnels.
All topics were successfully covered and all planned activities were implemented. The topics included;
Participants further came up with advocacy strategies to foster ratification and deposit of the Declaration under Article 34(6) of the African Court Protocol by Zambia.
As a follow up mechanism, Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA-Zambia) was recommended as the country focal point in following up the developments and formulating more strategies on the ratification and declaration of the African Court Protocol by Zambia.
The African Court Coalition was also able to recruit 6 new members in Zambia, who will benefit from getting the feeds of engagements of the Court and all other human rights related feeds from the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Union as well as to participate and be informed on the activities of the African Court Coalition.
We are grateful to the Deutsche Gesellschaft Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) for the financial support of this advocacy seminar.
MAKE THE DIFFERENCE, SUPPORT THE AFRICAN COURT COALITION!
African Court Coalition being a non-profiting Organization is open to receive donations which will support its activities particularly on trainings, seminars, advocacy and round tables with a purpose of assuring access to justice for all in Africa in working toward an effective, accessible and independent African Court on People’s and Human Rights (African Court).
Donations will also be used to support young graduates to gain experience with the African Court and the African Human Rights System as a whole as well as the work experience in an organization through a rich internship program conducted at the African Court Coalition Secretariat.
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