Final communique of the first meeting of the Study Group on Freedom of Association in Africa

1. The Study Group on Freedom of Association in Africa (Study Group) held its first meeting from 12 to 14 May 2012 in Lomé, Republic of Togo.

2. The following members of the Study Group attended the meeting:

  • Honourable Commissioner Reine Alapini Gansou, former Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa;
  • Mr. Clément Voulé Nyaletosi, Representative, International Service for Human Rights;
  • Mr. Diallo Gadiry, Representative, West Africa Human Rights Defenders Network;
  • Ms. Hannah Forster, Representative, African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies;
  • Ms. Sarah Dorman, Representative, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies;
  • Mr. Neil Blazevic, Representative, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network;
  • Mr. Humphrey Sipalla, Representative, Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa;
  • Ms. Corlett Letjoane, Representative, Human Rights Institute of South Africa.

 

3. The following resource persons also attended the meeting:

  • Honourable Commissioner Lucy Asuagbor, former Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa;
  • Mr. Mohamed Zaree, Representative,  Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies; 
  • Mr. Mabassa Fall, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Representative to the African Union;
  • Mr. Seth Matéli Kluvia, Coordinator, Working Group on the 1901 Act on Freedom of Association in Togo;  
  • Ms. Hélène Boussard, Research Coordinator, WaterLex.

 

4. Ms. Maximilienne Ngo Mbé Chantal was absent for reasons beyond her control.

5. Honourable Commissioner Reine Alapini Gansou presided at the meeting, in her capacity as Chairperson of the Study Group on Freedom of Association in Africa.

6. In her opening statement, the Chairperson of the Study Group, Honourable Reine Alapini Gansou, expressed her gratitude to the representatives of the various networks for their participation and determination in promoting and protecting human rights on the African continent. In this regard, she recalled the basis on which the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights decided to establish a Study Group on Freedom of Association in Africa and expressed hope that this first formal meeting which is financed exclusively by the African Commission would yield concrete results.

7. After the opening statement by the Chairperson, Honourable Commissioner Lucy Asuagbor, who was Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa at the establishment of the Study Group, took the floor and reminded members of the Study Group of the prime importance of freedom of association which, she underscored, is a gateway to all the other rights enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.  

8. The Coordinator of the West Africa Human Rights Defenders Network, Mr. Diallo Gadiry, then welcomed members of the Study Group and thanked them for choosing a country which is covered by his network to host their first meeting.   

9. After the agenda was adopted, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa gave a presentation on the Study Group and its mandate.

10. Members of the Study Group, including representatives of various human rights defenders networks and institutes, then gave presentations on the situation of freedom of association in their respective regions, laying particular emphasis on the challenges and opportunities for implementing freedom of association and demonstration in their various sub-regions.

11. The Study Group had the opportunity to brainstorm on how the African Commission can protect freedom of association and assembly through its decisions and jurisprudence.  

12. Members of the Study Group reviewed the various already existing and ongoing initiatives relating to freedom of association and assembly in Africa.

13. The Coordinator of the Working Group on the 1901 Act on Freedom of Association in Togo, Mr. Seth Matéli Kluvia, discussed with members of the Group the ECOWAS experience as part of the latter’s 2020 vision and the questionnaire used by the sub-region in the ongoing inventory of all civil society organizations in the ECOWAS zone.

14. Members of the Study Group adopted a methodology to be used in the study to be conducted on freedom of association. They also produced a data collection questionnaire based on the pilot case study of Togo.

15. The Study Group designed an action plan for implementing ACHPR Resolution ACHPR/Res.151 (XLVI) 09 on the Need for the Conduct of a Study on Freedom of Association in Africa.

16. The Study Group also started discussions on the potential sources of funding towards a speedy conclusion of the study.

17. The closing ceremony of the first formal meeting of the Study Group on Freedom of Association in Africa was held on 14 May 2012 at Hôtel Résidence Louise in Lomé, Republic of Togo.

 Done in Lomé, Togo, on 14 May 2012