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African Commission on
Human and Peoples' Rights

Statement by the Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Internally Displaced Persons and Migrants in Africa on the occasion of International Migrants Day

For nearly three (03) years, the issue of migration and the migrant situation have been a major concern. Africa is particularly affected by the consequences of this constantly growing phenomenon. This year, the migrant situation has taken centre stage across the world, and in the African sub-region in particular. Although the African Union and the United Nations have both initiated processes aimed at ensuring a better treatment of migrants and the protection of their dignity, the current human trafficking situation in Libya, of which migrants are a victim, appear to be undermining these efforts.

The migrant crisis in Libya underscores the need for African countries to take urgent action in fulfilling commitments made in respect of the migrant situation, in particular, through the implementation of the Common African Position (CAP) on Humanitarian Effectiveness and establishment of the African Humanitarian Agency in charge of implementing the humanitarian action programme on forced displacement including the issue of migration.

On this International Migrants Day, the Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Displaced Persons and Migrants in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission), recalls that migration is an inherent feature of the human condition and despite efforts aimed at dissuading or putting an end to this phenomenon, it will persist so long as factors such as violence, poverty, discrimination, inequality, climate change, natural and other disasters continue to prevail.

The massive displacement of migrants represents a major challenge for the African continent with the numerous casualties deplored among migrants and, more recently, human trafficking of which migrants are a victim in Libya.

Those voices that were unanimously raised to condemn the situation in Libya must also call for concrete actions in favour of migrants and their protection. Efforts should especially be deployed to address the root causes of migration and prevent the occurrence of tragedies such as the loss of human lives in the Mediterranean and the Sahara Desert.

African States which have adopted and ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter) must provide effective protection to their migrant populations in accordance with Article 5 which guarantees the right of every individual to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being and protects the individual from all forms of exploitation and degradation of man particularly slavery, slave trade, physical or mental torture.

The Special Rapporteur also recalls the provisions of Article 12 of the African Charter which guarantee the right to freedom of movement and residence for all individuals and prohibit the mass expulsion of non-nationals, international instruments on human rights protection, its Resolutions ACHPR/Res.114 (XXXXII) 07, ACHPR/Res.131 (XXXXIII) 08 and ACHPR/Res. 333 (EXT.OS/XIX) 16 on the situation of migrants, as well as its Statement on the deteriorating situation of migrants in the Mediterranean adopted at its 56th Ordinary Session in Banjul, The Gambia.

The Special Rapporteur encourages the African Union and States Parties to the African Charter, to continue consultations and efforts for the implementation of recommendations of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants as well as the humanitarian action programme as a means to achieve the objectives set out in Agenda 2063.

In conclusion, the Special Rapporteur is calling on all stakeholders to treat migrants with the dignity that all human beings deserve, as enshrined in the African Charter and rooted in African values. 

Commissioner Maya Sahli Fadel

Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers,

Internally Displaced Persons and Migrants in Africa


For further information, please contact

the Secretariat of the Commission

31 Bijilo Annex Lay-out, Kombo North District

 Western Region

 P. O. Box 673, Banjul, The Gambia

  Tel: (+220) 441 05 05 /441 05 06

 Fax: (+220)  441 05 04    

Email: au-banjul@africa-union.org