Activities as Commissioner
(NOVEMBER 2013 – APRIL 2014)
Commissioner Pacifique Manirakiza
Presented at the 55th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
28 April – 12 May 2014
1. This Report is submitted pursuant to Rules 23(3) and 72 of the Rules of Procedure of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission), and covers activities conducted in the inter-session period between November 2013 and April 2014.
2. The report details activities which I undertook in my capacity as a Member of the Commission and as the Chairperson of the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations in Africa.
3. The Report is divided into three parts:
Ø Part 1: Activities undertaken as a Member of the Commission;
Ø Part 2: Activities of the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations in Africa;
Ø Part 3: Conclusion and Recommendations.
Part 1: Activities undertaken as a Member of the Commission
4. In my capacity as Member of the Commission, I participated in the following activities.
5. From 06 to 09 December 2013, I undertook a study tour to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Court), in conjunction with a delegation from the Secretariat of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission). During this study tour, as the Rapporteur for Application no. 006/12: African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights v. Republic of Kenya, I coordinated preparation of arguments on the Merits, in addition to the litigation strategy of the Commission. Once finalized the Merits submissions were duly submitted to the African Court.
6. In addition, discussions and consultations were held with the Secretariat to discuss the oral hearings on the case, which were initially scheduled to be held on 12 and 13 March 2014. However, this oral hearing was postponed, after the African Court adjourned the proceedings in response to the Respondent State’s request for an extension of time to submit its arguments on the Merits of the case.
7. I participated in the 15th Extra-Ordinary Session of the African Commission, which was held from 07 to 14 March 2014, in Banjul, The Gambia; however I was unable to attend the entire session due to the fact that I was called upon to honor another appointment on behalf of the African Union.
8. In March 2014, I was appointed as a member of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (COI) set up by the African Union. Immediately after the Oath Ceremony, which was held on 12 March 2014, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Commission started working. It has already held two meetings during which it adopted the terms of reference, outlined the work plan and methodology. Finally, the Commission of Inquiry has just completed its first visit to South Sudan during which the Commissioners met several partners, notably the President of the Republic and the Head of the Armed Opposition, the former Vice-president Dr. Rick Machar.
9. From 21 to 22 March I participated in a Colloquium held by the International Studies program of the University of Laval, where I gave a presentation on the International Criminal Court and Africa.
10. Further, in fulfillment of the African Commission’s Resolution on Transitional Justice in Africa mandating me to prepare a study on transitional justice in Africa, I have been working with the different partners, spearheaded by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR). During the inter-session period, the following activities were undertaken: the formation of the advisory committee; convening of the inception meeting to determine the modalities of the study; recruitment of researchers; development of research guidelines; efforts to secure funding; and the development of the work-plans. I would like to reiterate my gratitude to CSVR for its continued support and assistance in this work.
Part 2: Activities of the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations in Africa
11. In my capacity as the Chairperson of the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations in Africa (the Working Group), I would like to present the activities carried out by the Working Group during the inter-session period.
12. In line with its mandate, the Working Group undertook its first research and information mission to the Republic of Zambia, from 13 to 17 January 2014. During this mission, I was assisted by Professor Michelo Hansangule, an Expert Member of the Working Group and Mr. Josua Soots, a research assistant. During the mission, the delegation met with various stakeholders: at the levels of central and local government, traditional leaders, community representatives, civil society and community based organizations, prominent individuals, private extractive companies, as well as other actors involved in the promotion and protection of human rights. The delegation also took the opportunity to visit Solwezi, in the provincial town of the North Western Province, where the delegation spent three days interacting with, inter alia, traditional leaders, affected communities, civic leaders and others. The Report of this mission will be presented to the Commission for consideration and adoption, and the findings and recommendations will be communicated to the State and to the general public thereafter. On behalf of the Working Group, I would like to extend my thanks to the Government of the Republic of Zambia for acquiescing to the Working Group’s request to conduct the mission.
13. The Working Group also received authorization from the Republic of Liberia to undertake a similar mission; however due to unavoidable and unforeseen commitments as a result of my participation in the Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan, the mission was unable to proceed. In spite of this, I would like to sincerely thank the Government of the Republic of Liberia for all the preparations which were undertaken in order to ensure the success of the mission. It is my hope that the mission will proceed at a later stage, and that the Government of Liberia will accept the new proposed dates for the mission once these are provided by the Working Group.
14. On 14th April 2014, the Working Group held a Skype conference call, where the following issues were discussed: an update on the AUSAID projects and challenges; the Working Group’s Toolkit for research and information missions, which is due to be discussed by the Commission during this Session; the Working Group’s call for nominations for new Expert Members; exploring partnership with the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights, the Representative of the European Union based at the African Union headquarters and the Legal Resources Centre; upcoming outreach and promotional activities of the Working Group; and the annual meeting, proposed to be held in July 2014.
Part 3: Conclusion and Recommendations
15. In conclusion, I would like to make the following general observations and recommendations.
- The Working Group on Extractive Industry is working to collect first hand information on the extractive industry from the territories of the State Parties. This is being conducted in fulfillment of its mandate which calls upon the Working Group to “request, gather, receive and exchange information and materials from all relevant sources.” In this regard, I would like to call on all relevant stakeholders to collaborate with the Group by sending appropriate information. This will enable the Working Group to obtain all the relevant information on the country where the mission will be conducted.
- In the same vein, I would like to reiterate my call, on behalf of the Working Group, requesting State Parties to grant the necessary authorization for the conduct of the research and information missions.
- I would also like to take this opportunity to call on State Parties to the African Charter to implement the decisions, recommendations, and provisional measures, among others, of the African Commission. It is in this regard that I would like to specifically call on the Government of the Republic of Kenya to comply with the Commission’s Resolution, ACHPR/Res.257 (LIV) 2013: Resolution Calling on the Republic of Kenya to Implement the Endorois Decision, which was adopted during the Commission’s 54th Ordinary Session, and “to inform the Commission of the measures proposed to implement the Endorois decision, and more particularly, the concrete steps which have been taken to engage all the players and stakeholders, including the victims, with a view to giving full effect to the decision,” and further “to transmit to the Commission, a comprehensive report, including a roadmap for implementation as pledged during the oral hearing at the 53rd Ordinary Session of the Commission.”
- In recognition of the forthcoming presidential, parliamentary and regional assembly elections to be held in the Republic of Mozambique in October 2014, I would like to call on the Government to accede to the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, in addition to ensuring protection of the inherent right of all Mozambicans to peacefully participate in free and fair elections.
- Finally, as the Commissioner responsible for monitoring the human rights situation in Guinea-Bissau, I would also like to commend the strong turnout for the Guinea-Bissau elections, which were held on 13 April 2014. Following the military coup d’état in 2012, which I denounced in my activity report presented during the 51st Ordinary Session, the country has made significant strides back to democracy, not least of which was the orderly and peaceful elections to elect a new National Assembly, from which a new Government will be formed, as well as elect a new President of the Republic. I would like to call on the Government to ensure the same peaceful exercise during the run-off Presidential elections, which will be held in May 2014.