The Rapporteur’s Letter, 10th edition
Theme: “Reprisals against human rights defenders in Africa"
In view of the extremely important role they play for the protection of human rights, human rights defenders are often subject to serious violations of their rights in relation to their activities in protecting the rights of others.
In Africa and elsewhere in the world, we observe an increase in the number of reprisals against individuals/groups engaged in direct dialogue with regional or international human rights organs. These attacks are perpetrated in the form of smear campaigns, death threats, physical assaults, kidnappings, judicial harassment, police intimidation, assassinations or other forms of harassment.
In numerous cases, reprisals against human rights defenders are as a result of their actions to condemn abuses in specific areas. These human rights defenders provide information and participate in various ways in the effectiveness of the African human rights system.
It is in light of these observations that the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) adopted the ACHPR/Res. 196 (L) Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders condemning reprisals they are subjected to. Moreover, the ACHPR/Res. 273 (LV) Resolution adopted at the 55th Ordinary Session of the Commission extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa to cover the distinct issue of reprisals against human rights defenders. This requires the Special Rapporteur to, inter alia, gather information, document and monitor cases of reprisals against human rights defenders collaborating with the African human rights system.
It is therefore important to reflect on ways and means to inhibit and address this phenomenon in the framework of the African human rights protection system.
In order to ensure a better understanding of the reprisal phenomenon and develop strategies against it, the Special Rapporteur has consequently decided to devote the next edition of "The Rapporteur's Letter” to this theme.
“The Rapporteur’s Letter”
The mechanism of the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders in Africa developed a communication tool to maintain synergies built with all stakeholders. This newsletter “The Rapporteur’s Letter” was created in 2006. It is set to be published each ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The purpose of the newsletter is to maintain a link between the mandate and human rights defenders providing the latter with information on activities of the mandate as well as space to express and voice their opinions on issues that are of priority to the mandate.
For this purpose, the Office of the Special Rapporteur hereby invites, in particular, human rights defenders, civil society actors, academics and law practitioners (attorneys, judges and others) to submit their articles. The articles must be focused on Africa and human rights defenders facing reprisals for their collaboration with the African human rights system.
Instructions for Contributors
Ø The title of the article shall be followed by the name and institution of contributor;
Ø The article shall be submitted as a Word document (Font: Time New Roman, 12, single line spacing) and shall not exceed 2,000 words. Footnote numbering shall be continuous;
Ø Contributions shall be submitted in French or English
Preference will be given to contributions submitted in the form of articles. However contributions may also be submitted in other forms including testimonies and interviews.
Electronic versions of final submissions shall be sent by email to the following addresses no later than Sunday 17 August 2014: firstname.lastname@example.org (Christian Rumu) and email@example.com (Tchamba Olivia).
Articles received after this date will unfortunately not be considered for publication in this edition.
On the mechanism of the Special Rapporteur
The mechanism of the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders in Africa was established pursuant to Resolution ACPHR/Res. 69 (XXXV) 04 of 4 June 2004, of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. This Resolution establishes the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and defines its scope. Under its mandate, the Special Rapporteur shall seek, receive, examine and act upon information on the situation of human rights defenders in Africa. Furthermore, it develops and recommends strategies to ensure greater protection of human rights defenders, create greater awareness and promote implementation of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in Africa. It seeks to protect human rights defenders as individuals, their organizations and their right to defend human rights.