Press Statement on the Human Rights Situation in North Africa

    The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) continues to follow closely the deteriorating human rights situation in North Africa, States Parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter).

    The African Commission is particularly concerned about the serious and massive violations taking place in the Great Socialist Peoples’ Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. It condemns the violence and use of force against civilians and suppression of peaceful demonstrators. The African Commission calls on the Government of the Great Socialist Peoples’ Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to immediately end the violence against civilians and take necessary steps to ensure that the human rights of its citizens and all its inhabitants are respected. It calls on the Government of the Great Socialist Peoples’ Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, to uphold the right to freedom of expression, assembly, the right to peaceful protest and ensure the security of its citizens, as provided by the African Charter.

    Concerning the Peoples’ Democratic Republic of Algeria, the African Commission also expresses its grave concerns at the deteriorating human rights situation therein. It condemns the  violence and use of force against civilians, and calls on the Government of the Peoples’ Democratic Republic of Algeria, not only to meet its responsibility to protect its own population, but also  to act with restraint and to respect the rights and freedoms of its citizens. Furthermore, the African Commission deplores the arrest of innocent civilians which is a violation of international law,  and in violation of the African Charter. It calls for the immediate cessation of all arbitrary arrests and for the Government of the Peoples’ Democratic Republic of Algeria to follow through with its commitment to release all individuals unlawfully arrested during the protest.

    With regards to the Republic of Tunisia and the Arab Republic of Egypt, the African Commission welcomes the process of political transition initiated in those countries. It further commends the people of those States for the peaceful, courageous and orderly manner in which they have exercised their legitimate rights.

    Aware of the human and material casualties incurred so far in those two countries, the African Commission stresses the need for all stakeholders to exercise utmost restraint and to work, through dialogue, for the search of a consensual solution to the situation that takes into account the legitimate aspirations of its people. It underscores the need for appropriate reforms, including the holding of free and fair elections that respect their fundamental rights.

    The Republic of Tunisia and the Arab Republic of Egypt now have a precious opportunity to build institutions that can promote and protect human rights in their countries that could serve as a beacon for Africa to emulate.

    The African Commission stresses the need that in these difficult times of transition in North Africa, it is vital that human rights and civil liberties are fully respected, and that genuine and inclusive dialogue is assured.

    The African Commission continues to monitor developments in the North African subregion and calls on the African Union to contribute towards the effective realisation of human and peoples’ rights, constitutional order and democracy in those countries. It is only when the human rights of others are respected that true freedom is assured.

    Done in Banjul, 25 February 2011

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      Date: 25 February 2011

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