BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE MANDATE OF THE SPECIAL RAPPORTER ON EXTRA-JUDICIAL, SUMMARY OR ARBITRARY EXECUTIONS OF THE AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES' RIGHTS
- The legal basis of the creation of the Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions is found in Chapter VI of the Rules of Procedure of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights governing the establishment of subsidiary bodies of the African Commission. Rule 28 authorises the African Commission to set up ‘committees or working groups composed of members of the Commission and send them any agenda or item for consideration and report.’ Further, by virtue of Rule 29, the Commission ‘may establish sub-Commissions of experts and determine, unless the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the OAU decides otherwise, the functions and composition of each sub-Commission.’
- It was with this legal background coupled with a conviction that there is nothing more irreparable and more irreversible than the taking, outside the law, of the life of human beings, a right expressly guaranteed under Article 4 of the African Charter, that the Commission designated one of its members, Dr. Hatem Ben Salem, at its 16th Ordinary Session held in 1994, as the Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions. However, it was only at the 18th Ordinary Session of the Commission held in Praia, Cape Verde in October 1995 that the mandate for determining the missions of the Special Rapporteur was approved. This delay was due to the desire by the Commission to base the function on solid grounds-both in terms of giving it specific role and adequate resources- so that it would play an effective role in the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa.
- The Special Rapporteur, Commissioner Ben Salem, tendered his resignation at the 29th Ordinary Session of the Commission held from 23rd April to 7th May 2001 in Tripoli, Libya during which the Commission accepted his resignation. The Commission intends to appoint a new Special Rapporteur.
A - MISSION
- To propose the implementation of a reporting system on cases of extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions in African States, specifically by keeping a register containing all information as to the identity of the victims.
- To follow up, in collaboration with government officials, or failing that, with international, national or African NGOs, all enquiries which could lead to discovering the identity and extent of responsibility of authors and initiators of extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
- To suggest the ways and means of informing the African Commission in good time of the possibility of extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, with the goal of intervening before the OAU Summit.
- To intervene with States for trial and punishment of perpetrators of extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and rehabilitation of the victims of these executions.
- To examine the modalities of the creation of a mechanism of compensation for the families of victims of extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, which might be done through national legal procedures, through an African compensation fund.
In his mission, the Special Rapporteur had as a priority to produce a report on extra-judicial execution of children, women, demonstrators, and of human rights activists/political opponents. The Rapporteur can decide to chose a country where he/she believes the incidence of executions are the most frequent or massive.
C - DURATION OF THE MANDATE
The Special Rapporteur had a period of two years to finalise his/her mission unless the Commission decided to extend this time.
D - METHOD OF ACTION
The Special Rapporteur could, for the execution of his/her mandate, have recourse to all methods of investigation, specifically by requesting the assistance of States, national, international and African NGOs. He/She may be assisted in his/her mission by any person whom he/she judges competent to perform this task well.
E - THE REPORT
The Special Rapporteur had to submit a report to the Commision at each session on the progress of his mission. He made annual reports were to be part of the annual activity report of the Commission to the Conference of Heads of State and Government of the OAU.