Activities as Working Group ChairpersonWorking Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
By Mr Béchir Khalfallah
Commissioner/Chairperson of the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Africa
53rd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
9 - 23 March 2013
Banjul, The Gambia
1. This report is presented in accordance with Rule 72 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission which provides that each Member of the Commission shall submit a written report of his or her promotion activities undertaken during the inter-session. As such, the present report covers the activities undertaken in my capacity as Commissioner and as the Chairperson of the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Africa since the 52nd Ordinary Session of the Commission which was held in October 2012 in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire.
II- Activities undertaken in my capacity as Commissioner
A- Participation in a workshop in Algeria on the Sahrawi people
- The workshop was organised from 30 October to 2 November 2012 by European NGOs with the objective to show solidarity with the people of Sahrawi who have been victims of several human rights violations. Also present at the workshop was Commissioner Maya Sahli-Fadel. We had the opportunity to listen to testimonies of about thirty Sahrawi citizens.
B- Meeting on 14 February 2013 with the Secretary General of Journalists of Community Radio Stations in France
3. The aim of the meeting was to discuss the draft model law on access to information with representatives of community radio stations in France. We held fruitful discussions during which the various participants applauded the Commission, and in particular Commissioner Tlakula, for the commendable initiative to adopt a model law on access to information.
C- Participation in the 13th Extraordinary Session of the Commission
4. From 18 to 25 February 2013, I participated in the 13th Extraordinary Session of the Commission held in Banjul, The Gambia. At my behest, the Commission issued a statement on the trial and sentencing of twenty-five (25) Sahrawi civilians by a military court in Rabat, Morocco, between 8 and 16 February 2013.
D- Human rights promotion mission to the Republic of Chad
5. In my capacity as the Commissioner responsible for human rights activities in Chad, I undertook a joint human rights promotion mission to the Republic of Chad from 11 to 19 March 2013. The Commission delegation was composed of the following Commissioners:
- Honourable Commissioner Béchir Khalfallah, Commissioner responsible for human rights activities in Chad and head of delegation;
- Honourable Commissioner Reine Alapini Gansou, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa;
- Honourable Commissioner Maya Sahli Fadel, Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Internally Displaced Persons and Migrants in Africa; and
- Honourable Commissioner Med S.K. Kaggwa, Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Conditions of Detention in Africa.
6. The delegation was assisted by Mrs Anita Bagona and Mr Charles B. Nguena, Legal Officers at the Secretariat of the Commission.
7. During the mission, the Commission delegation held fruitful discussions with members of the Government of Chad, including the Prime Minister Mr Joseph Djimrangar Dadnadji, the Speaker of the National Assembly and representatives of parliamentary groups. The delegation also met with representatives of some UN agencies such as UNDP and UNHCR, as well as members of the National Human Rights Commission, civil society and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The discussions focused mainly on the human rights situation in Chad.
E- Statement on the military takeover in the Central African Republic
8. At my initiative and in my capacity as the Commissioner responsible for human rights promotion activities in the Central African Republic, the Commission issued a statement condemning the military takeover of 24 March 2013. The Commission also condemned the human rights violations as a result of the military takeover and reminded the country of its regional and international human rights obligations.
III- Activities undertaken in my capacity as Chairperson of the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Africa
9. As part of its mandate, the Working Group decided to organise missions to promote the right to education in a number of countries. In this regard, we have sent notes verbales to the States identified requesting for a promotion mission.
10. On 8 February 2013, I held a meeting with UNESCO representatives in Paris. I was told during the meeting to contact the Director of the UNESCO Africa Office in Dakar, Senegal, whose office will be capable of supporting the activities of the Working Group.
IV- Conclusion and recommendations
- It should be underscored that the situation of economic, social and cultural rights in Africa is still one of serious concern. Access to drinking water, the right to health for all, the right to decent housing and the right to work remain illusory for many Africans. Moreover, there is the ineffective implementation of economic, social and cultural rights, coupled with political instability in several African countries. The Working Group makes the following recommendations towards finding solutions to these challenges.
A- To the African Union
- Encourage Member States to comply with regional instruments relating to economic, social and cultural rights.
B- To Member States
- Make use of the Principles and Guidelines on the Implementation of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the African Charter (Nairobi Principles);
- Take into account the State Party Reporting Guidelines for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the African Charter (Tunis Guidelines) when preparing periodic reports;
- Ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 2008. The Protocol will enter into force on 5 May 2013, given that on 29 March 2013 it had been ratified by 42 States and acceded to by 10 States.
C- To the Commission
- Support the Working Group in implementing its activities.
 Including South Africa, Algeria, Gabon, Guinea Conakry, Kenya, Mauritania and Senegal.