Welcome Remarks by Honourable Lady Justice Sophia A.B. Akuffo President of the African Court during the Third Annual Meeting of the African Court and the African Commission

    Honourable Busingye Johnston, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Republic of Rwanda;

    Honourable Kayitesi Zainabo Sylvie, Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights;

    Honourable Justices of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights;

    Honourable Commissioners of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights;

    Representatives of the Government of the Republic of Rwanda;

    Members of the Press;

    Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

     

    The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights is pleased to be here in Kigali, today to participate in the Third Annual Meeting between our respective institutions. This meeting no doubt reflects the spirit of the Kigali Declaration that was adopted here by the first African Union Ministerial Conference on Human Rights in May 2003.

    Today the world also observes the Nelson Mandela International Day, honouring a man who championed human rights, dignity and respect for all. I believe he continues to inspire our two institutions as well as African Union Member States to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights on the continent.

     

    Distinguished Invited Guests,

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    It is worthy of note that the Court and the Commission’s proposal to the African Union Policy Organs to declare the year 2016 as the Year of Human Rights was accepted. The year has been declared as such in the recent Assembly of Heads of Government of the African Union. The focus of the observances will be on women’s rights. Concerted effort is now required among the organs with human rights mandate within the African Union and the African Union Policy Organs to ensure the success of this initiative.

    It is opportune that we are meeting here in Kigali, as the Republic of Rwanda will host the June 2016 Summit during which activities envisaged for the observance of the Year of Human Rights with a Focus on Women’s Rights will be undertaken. It is heartening to note that from the time that the Court and the Commission made the proposal for the African Union to declare the year 2016 as the Year of Human Rights, the Government of Rwanda gave the proposal resounding support and refined it to focus on women’s rights. We hope that our planned discussions with the relevant Government authorities of Rwanda will develop a clear road map for collaboration in this regard as we believe that work towards 2016 will be championed by the Republic of Rwanda.

     

    Distinguished Invited Guests,

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Regarding complementarity between the Court and the Commission, the Court urges the further examination of more referral of cases from the Commission to the Court. The referral mechanism particularly of matters from the Commission to the Court necessitates a re-orientation of the role of the Commission as an institution charged with protecting and promotion on human rights. Perhaps the Commission can, in referring to and prosecuting matters it has referred to the Court, consider leveraging the technical capacities of the legal representatives of the original complainants before the Commission. It is necessary for all of us including the African Union Policy Organs to capacitate the Commission to optimize the opportunities for referral and complementarity. Taking action on referred matters during the intersession will also contribute to resolution of issues arising and facilitate a faster response and compliance with timelines for action. The Court stands ready to share its experiences in this regard as it has the primary responsibility to protect human rights on the continent.

     

    Distinguished Invited Guests,

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    We are gratified that the Minister will open this meeting, the outcomes of which will no doubt consolidate the promotion of justice and human rights on the continent. We are confident of the continued support of the Government of Rwanda in this regard as it will be a continuation of its own efforts to promote human rights.

    I thank you all for your attention.

     

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