FINAL COMMUNIQUE OF THE 51st ORDINARY SESSION OF THE AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS
HELD IN BANJUL, THE GAMBIA
FROM 18 April TO 02 May 2012
Honourable Commissioner – Kayitesi Zainabo Sylvie, Vice Chairperson;
· Honourable Commissioner Reine Alapini-Gansou;
· Honourable Commissioner Faith Pansy Tlakula;
· Honourable Commissioner Yeung Kam John Sik Yuen;
· Honourable Commissioner Soyata Maiga;
· Honourable Commissioner Mohamed Bechir Khalfallah;
· Honourable Commissioner Lucy Asuagbor;
· Honourable Commissioner Med Kaggwa;
· Honourable Commissioner Maya Sahli-Fadel; and
Honourable Commissioner Pacifique Manirakiza.
Honourable Commissioner Catherine Dupe Atoki chaired the deliberations of the Public Session.
Adama Cooper, read
a statement on behalf of the NGOs that participated in the NGO Forum preceding
the 51st Ordinary Session of the Commission. Mrs. Adama Cooper expressed concern over the continuing human rights
violations in some African countries, which she said was caused or aggravated
by poverty, conflicts, and bad governance. She highlighted instances of serious violations of
human rights in places like Sudan and South Sudan, DRC, and the Horn of Africa.
Mrs. Cooper also expressed concern
and disappointment over the two coups d’ états in the Republic of Mali and the
Republic of Guinea Bissau, given that 2012 is supposed to mark a significant
milestone in Africa, as several countries have conducted free and fair
elections, and more are expected, signaling a new era of democratization in
15. She concluded by reiterating the readiness of the NGOs to collaborate with the African Commission and the African Union in promoting human rights, good governance and the rule of law.
16. A representative of the Network of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs or the Network), Adv. Mabedle Lawrence Mushwana delivered a statement on behalf of NHRIs. He stated that the Network was a strategic partner of the African Commission in the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa. In that regard, he informed the 51st Ordinary Session that the Network held a two-day ‘Workshop for African NHRIs on Reporting Processes to the African Regional Human Rights Mechanisms.’ Adv. Mushwana stated that the Workshop which was opened and closed by the Chairperson of the African Commission and attended by a number of Commissioners afforded the NHRIs to share experiences and challenges on how these institutions can be more effective within the African human rights system.
Mushwana noted that the 51st
Ordinary Session was being held at a time when Africa was facing many challenges in its efforts to
achieve good governance. He cited the recent unconstitutional changes of
governments in the Republic of Mali and the Republic of Guinea Bissau, the arrest
of the Chairperson of the
Malawi Human Rights Commission and the plight of the Chairperson of the Togo Human Rights Commission who had to flee the country following
threats to his life. He said that NHRIs in Africa are conscious of these
challenges and pledged that they shall play their role in addressing them.
20. The First Vice-Chairperson of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC), Mr Cyprien Adebayo Yanclo also made a statement to the 51st Ordinary Session. He underscored the important bi-lateral relationship that exists between the ACERWC and the African Commission. He informed the 51st Ordinary Session that since the commencement of its work in 2002, the ACERWC has worked assiduously to increase the number of ratifications of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child by AU Member States, which currently stands at 46. He also stated that the Committee has now considered 15 State Reports and two Communications.
i. World Alliance for Citizen Participation (CIVICUS);
ii. Centre Feminine pour la Démocratie et les Droits Humains;
iii. Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa;
iv. African Freedom of Information Centre, and
Zimbabwe Election Support Network
30. The African Commission considered an application for Observer Status from Sight Savers and decided to defer it to the 52nd Ordinary Session.
31. This brings the total number of NGOS with Observer Status with the African Commission to four hundred and thirty five (435).
· Republic of Angola; and
· Republic of Sudan
· Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa;
· Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa;
· Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa;
· Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Places of Detention in Africa;
· Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa;
· Chairperson of the Working Group on the Death Penalty in Africa;
· Chairperson of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa;
· Chairperson of the Working Group on the Rights of Older Persons and People with Disabilities in Africa;
· Chairperson of the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights in Africa; and
· Chairperson of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa; and the Chairperson of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and those at Risk, Vulnerable to and Affected by HIV; and
of the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Africa (ECOSOC).
a) Promotion Mission Report of the Republic of Niger;
b) Report of the Secretary to the African Commission; and
c) Report of the Working Group on Communications;
35. The African Commission met in their Private Session with the UN
Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children,
Mrs. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo. The UN Special Rapporteur briefed Members of African
Commission on her global mandate and the work she is doing in Africa. She
informed Members of the Commission about the scourge of trafficking in many
countries in Africa and invited the African Commission to collaborate with her
mandate in order to address the violations.
36. The African Commission considered the ‘Draft Protocol on Older Persons’ and deferred it to the 52nd Ordinary Session for reconsideration.
38. The African Commission adopted the following Resolutions:
· Resolution on the Situation of the North of the Republic Mali;
· Resolution on the Human Rights Situation in Federal Republic of Nigeria;
· Resolution on the Human Rights Situation in the Democratic Republic of Ethiopia;
· Resolution on the Situation Between Sudan and South Sudan;
· Resolution on the Human Rights Situation in the Kingdom of Swaziland;
· Resolution on the Unconstitutional Change of Governments;
· Resolution on the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;
· Resolution on the Attacks Against Journalist and Media Practitioners in Somalia;
· Resolution to modify the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression to include Access to Information and request for a Commemoration Day on Freedom of Information;
· Resolution on the Renewal of the Mandate of Expert Members of the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations in Africa;
· Resolution on the Renewal of the Mandate of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of People Living with HIV and those at risk, Vulnerable to and Affected by HIV and Re-appointment of Members of the Committee.
· Resolution on the Human Rights-Based Approach to Natural Resources Governance.
39. The African Commission considered 77 Communications: it was seized with four (4) and considered 2 on the Merits. 71 Communications were deferred to the 52nd Ordinary Session, for various reasons, including time constraints and lack of response from one or both parties.
40. The African
Commission conducted oral hearings on four (4) Communications.
41. The African Commission adopted its 32nd Activity Report which will be submitted to the 21st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the AU and the 19th Summit of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU, which is scheduled to take place in Lilongwe, Republic of Malawi in June 2012.
42. The African Commission decided to hold an
Extra-ordinary Session from 30 July to 4 August 2012, to discuss urgent and
43. The African Commission decided to hold its 52nd Ordinary Session from 9 to 22 October 2012, in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
44. The African Commission expresses its
sincere appreciation and profound gratitude to the Government and People of the
Republic 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 successful deliberations of its 51st
45. The closing ceremony of the 51st Ordinary Session took place on 2 May 2012 in Banjul, The Gambia.
46. The Chairperson of the African Commission, Honourable Commissioner Catherine Dupe Atoki, held a Press Conference after the closing ceremony.
Done in Banjul, Republic of The Gambia, 2 May 2012