Final Communiqué of the 38th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights1. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), held its 38th Ordinary Session in Banjul, Republic of The Gambia, from 21st November to 5th December 2005, chaired by Commissioner Salamata Sawadogo.
2. The following Members participated at this Session:
3. As is customary, the Non Governmental Organisations met prior to the 38th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights from the 18th to 20th November, in order to contribute to the deliberations of the said Session.
4. In her welcoming statement, the Chairperson of the African Commission, Mrs. Salamata Sawadogo, expressed, on behalf of the Members of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and on her own behalf, her profound gratitude to the Government of The Gambia for kindly hosting the 38th Ordinary Session of the African Commission. She welcomed the four new Commissioners and all the participants to the Session whose presence was, once again, a testimony of their commitment to the cause of human rights in Africa. She also commended the work done by the Members of the African Commission whose mandate had ended. Concerning the human rights situation in Africa, the Chairperson applauded the positive developments observed in certain State Parties; however, she invited all actors to increase their vigilance as the situation remained precarious in other States. The Chairperson also extended, on behalf of all the Members of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, their appreciation and congratulations to Mr. Germain Baricako, who, after 12 years of service in the Secretariat of the African Commission, has been called to other duties. Finally, the Chairperson welcomed Ms. Adwoa Coleman, his replacement, and wished her success.
5. The Minister of Human Rights of the Republic of Burundi, the Honourable Mrs. Françoise Ngendahayo, delivered a statement on behalf of the State Parties present at the 38th Ordinary Session. After having expressed her gratitude to the people and Government of The Gambia, Her Excellency the Minister commended the progress made by the African Commission despite the numerous challenges that it had had to face. She urged Member States to ratify the various legal instruments to ensure the effective enjoyment of human rights on the Continent. She pointed out that the human rights situation in most of the Member States remains fragile. It is for this reason, she said, that the African Commission and the actors of civil society needed to persevere in their work of promoting human rights and assisting the Member States so as to improve the human rights situation.
6. Mrs. Hannah Forster, Executive Director of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, addressed the audience in her capacity as the representative of the NGO Community present at the 38th Ordinary Session. She alluded to the NGO Forum which had been held as a prelude to the deliberations of this Session and whose conclusions would be submitted to the African Commission. Furthermore, Mrs. Forster lauded the election of the new Members of the African Commission and commended the outgoing Members for their significant contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights on our Continent. Finally, she urged the Member States to ratify the Protocol establishing the African Court as well as the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa which was due to enter into force.
7. In his opening address Honourable Sheikh Tijan Hydara, Attorney General and Secretary of State for Justice of the Republic of The Gambia, welcomed all the participants to the 38th Ordinary Session. He expressed his gratitude to the African Commission and to its Secretariat for the task accomplished in organising the Session and in executing the missions assigned to it. He went on to reiterate The Gambia’s commitment to supporting the African Commission and urged the Member States to ratify the Protocols relating to the African Court and to the Rights of Women in Africa. He urged the different partners of the African Commission to continue giving their support towards making a greater impact on the work of promoting and protecting human rights on the Continent. After having congratulated the four (4) newly-elected Members of the African Commission and expressed his good wishes for a successful outcome of the deliberations, the Honourable Minister declared the 38th Ordinary Session open.
8. In conformity with Article 39 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Rule 16 of the Rules of Procedure of the African Commission, the Members of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, newly-elected by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, took their oath of office during the opening ceremony. They are -:
9. In conformity with the provisions of Article 42 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Rule 17 of the Rules of Procedure of the African Commission, the following Commissioners were re-elected to the Bureau -:
10. During the Session, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights heard statements relating to the human rights situation in Africa from several Delegates of State Parties, Representatives of Intergovernmental Organisations and of National Human Rights Institutions and Non-Governmental Organisations.
11. Twenty two (22) State Parties, nine (9) National Human Rights Institutions, six (6) Intergovernmental Organizations, one hundred and thirty five (135) African and International Non Governmental Organizations and other invitees participated in the Session, making a total of two hundred and eighty two (282) participants.
12. The Republic of South Africa presented its Periodic Report in conformity with Article 62 of the African Charter. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights considered the said Report and adopted Concluding Observations relating thereto.
13. The Members of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights presented Reports on the activities they had carried out during the intersession period. The Special Rapporteurs and the Chairpersons of the Working Groups also presented their Reports.
14. The African Commission granted Observer Status to the following twelve (12) Non Governmental Organisations -:
This brings the number of Non-Governmental organisations with Observer Status with the African Commission to three hundred and forty two (342).
15. The Members of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted the Reports of promotional missions to the Central African Republic, Mauritania, Sao Tomé and Principe, Guinea Bissau, Seychelles and Botswana; the Report of the Missions of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa to Djibouti and Sudan; the Report of the Mission of the Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa to Senegal, as well as the Reports of the Missions of the Working Group on the Indigenous Populations/Communities to Botswana and Namibia.
16. The Members of the African Commission also adopted the Reports of the 35th, 36th, 37th and 38th Ordinary Sessions.
17. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights reiterated its decision to organise seminars on the following topics in 2006 -:
18. On 25th November 2005, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in collaboration with Civil Society organisations attending the 38th Ordinary Session, celebrated the entry into force of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa.
19. During the public session, on 26th November 2005, Members of the African Commission, Delegates of State Parties and Representatives of International and Non-Governmental organisations, paid vibrant homage to Germain Baricako, Secretary to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, who has been appointed to another duty station.
20. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted seventeen (17) Resolutions on -:
21. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights considered fifty four (54) Communications, including thirteen (13) decisions on seizure and four (4) decisions on admissibility. It further considered and decided to remove two (2) Communications from its list of Communications. For various reasons, the rest of the communications were deferred to the 39th Ordinary Session for further consideration.
22. The African Commission considered and took note of the Report of the Secretary to the African Commission, relating to the financial and administrative situation of the Secretariat and to the construction of the headquarters.
23. The African Commission decided to hold its 39th Ordinary Session from the 9th to 23rd May 2006 in Banjul, The Gambia.
24. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights expresses its sincere appreciation and profound gratitude to the Government of The Gambia for the facilities placed at its disposal and for the warm welcome and hospitality accorded to the participants, all of which contributed to the excellent outcome and success of the deliberations of its 38th Ordinary Session.
25. The closing ceremony of the 38th Ordinary Session took place on the 5th December 2005 in Banjul, Republic of The Gambia.
26. The Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights held a Press Conference after the closing ceremony.