32nd Ordinary Session: Final Communique

Final Communique of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

1. The 32nd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights was held in Banjul, The Gambia, from 17th to 23rd October 2002 under the Chairmanship of Mr. Kamel Rezag Bara.

2. The following Commissioners attended the Session:

3. Before the start of the opening ceremony, Mr. Germain Baricako, Secretary to the African Commission, invited the participants to observe a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the Joola disaster which occurred on 26th September 2002.

4. In his statement, the Chairman of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Mr. Kamel Rezag Bara, welcomed the participants and expressed his happiness at the increasing number of States Parties, National Human Rights Institutions, Non Governmental Organisations as well as other partners attending the Sessions of the African Commission.

Mr. Rezag Bara then presented the activities carried out by the Commission during the inter-session, including several missions undertaken in the States Parties by the Commissioners and Special Rapporteurs.

He furthermore stressed the need to strengthen the system of human rights in Africa and urged all the actors to ensure the entry into force of the Protocol to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the completion of the preparation of the Draft Protocol on Women’s Rights in Africa.

Recalling the Resolution of the 38th Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union requesting the African Commission to reflect on ways and means of strengthening the African system for the promotion and protection of human rights with a view to adapting it to the perspectives of the African Union, the Chairman of the Commission spoke of the progress achieved by the Commission but also of the difficulties it encountered in the discharge of its mandate.

Statements were made by Honourable Mr. Jean de Dieu Mucyo, Minister of Justice of Rwanda on behalf of the delegates of the States Parties, and Mr. Gnondoli Komi and Mr. Mohamed Genedy, representing National Human Rights Institutions and Non Governmental Organisations respectively.

The Session was officially opened by Honourable Mr. Ousmane Badjie, Secretary of State for the Interior of the Republic of The Gambia. In his opening statement, Honourable Badjie welcomed the participants to the Session and recalled the tragedy that had just befallen The Gambia and Senegal following the Joola disaster. He spoke also of the on-going conflict in Cote d’Ivoire and wished that a quick solution be found.

Turning to the commitment of the Republic of The Gambia with regard to the construction of the headquarters of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Honourable Badjie invited the Commission to join the Government of The Gambia in looking for ways and means of honouring this commitment.

5. Several delegates of States Parties, representatives of National Human Rights Institutions, Non Governmental Organizations and other invited guests made statements.

6. Representatives of National Human Rights Institutions and Non Governmental Organizations expressed their serious concern with regard to situation of human and Peoples’ rights prevailing in many African States, in particular Cote d’Ivoire. Member States also exercised their right of reply.

7. The African Commission granted affiliate status to the following National Human Rights Institutions:

8. The Commission granted observer status to the following Non Governmental Organizations:

9. On 21st October 2002, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights celebrated the African Human Rights Day through various activities, including a seminar on the theme: NEPAD, Good Governance and Human Rights.

10. The African Commission considered twenty one (21) communications, twelve (12) of which were considered for seizure, five (5) for admissibility and four (4) on merits. Consideration of the ten (10) other communications were deferred to the 33rd Session for reason of lack of time.

11. The African Commission was pleased with the large attendance of the 32nd Ordinary Session. There were twenty-two (22) States Parties represented by thirty-nine (39) delegates, six (6) National Institutions for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights with a total of eleven (11) representatives, one hundred and five (105) African and International NGOs, with one hundred eighteen (118) participants and forty-eight (48) other guests, bringing the total to two hundred sixteen (216) participants.

12. The Commission considered and adopted the Concluding Observations on the initial reports of Mauritania, Cameroon and Lesotho and the periodic report of Togo.

13. The Commission further considered and adopted a Resolution on Guidelines and Measures for the Prohibition and Prevention Measures of Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment or Treatment in Africa (Robben Island Guidelines).

14. The Commission also considered and adopted the Draft Declaration on the Principles of the Freedom of Expression in Africa.

15. The Commission adopted the report of the 31st Ordinary Session.

16. The African Commission wishes to express its sincere gratitude to the Government of The Gambia for the facilities put at its disposal which contributed to the smooth running of the proceedings of the 32nd Ordinary Session. The Commission had an audience with the Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia.

17. The African Commission decided to hold its 33rd Ordinary Session in Niamey, Niger, from 5th to 19th May 2003 on the invitation of the Government of Niger.

18. The 32nd Ordinary Session was closed by Honourable Joseph Joof, Attorney General and Secretary of State for Justice and National Assembly Matters of the Republic of The Gambia on 23rd October 2002.

19. The Chairman of the Commission held a Press Conference after the closing ceremony.

Done at Banjul on 23rd October 2002.