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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Catherine Dupe Atoki

This Report outlines the activities undertaken by me as a Commissioner during the Intersession from May to November 2010.

1. From 7 to 11 June 2010, the African Commission organised a training seminar in Dakar on its Complaints/Communication procedure. All Commissioners were invited and I participated in the deliberations. National Human Rights Institutions and Civil Society Organisations were the target audience.

2. The Seminar was the first of a series that the Commission intends to organise to explain among others: how it handles complaints/communications brought before it, including the issues to consider before bringing a communication, the procedure/process employed by the Commission when a communication has been received, the adoption and finalisation of the decision of the Commission, the revised rules of procedure and their impact on the communications process, the bridge from a quasi-judicial to a judicial process – that is, from the Commission to the African Court, and the extent to which the communications procedure could be improved to make it more effective and user-friendly.

3. It focused on practical experiences; drawing examples from already decided cases and working in groups on hypothetical cases with a view to enabling participants appreciate and better understand the process and the issues involved. It was adjudged insightful and successful by participants.

4. A stakeholder’s roundtable on strengthening of the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria and its adherence to the Paris Principles was organised by the Network of African Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI) in Abuja from 29 June 2010. The roundtable brought high level representatives from NHRI’s six regional zones, Parliament and civil society organisations.

5. The meeting involved the launching of the Gap Analysis report on the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria that was commissioned by NANHRI. The overall objective of the roundtables was to sensitize national and international stakeholders on strengthening the NHRC to enable it carryout its mandate in line with the recommendations of the Gap analysis Report.

6. I was invited to chair a Session at the roundtable.

7. From 5 to 6 July 2010, I participated in an anti-corruption interactive seminar for Magistrates in Lagos, Nigeria. The Seminar was organised by Socio-economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and it aimed to promote integrity in the Magistrate Courts and improve access of the citizens to justice in Lagos State. I presented a paper on promoting and enhancing the use and awareness of Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism.

8. I was invited on 10 August 2010 by the Nigerian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies Lagos to make a presentation on Revisiting Death Penalty in Nigeria. I traced the evolution of international law and the trend towards abolition of the death penalty as illustrated by the UN General Assembly's adoption of the 2nd Optional Protocol to the ICCPR and the general reluctance by those States that have retained capital punishment on their Statute books to exercise it in practice. The African Commission has also encouraged this trend by adopting a “Resolution Urging States to envisage a Moratorium on the Death Penalty]” and therefore encourages all States party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to take all measures to refrain from exercising the death penalty'.

9. At the invitation of the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights, I attended a Colloquium of the African Human Rights Courts and Similar Institutions in Arusha, Tanzania, from the 4 to 6 October 2010. Also In attendance were Commissioners Maiga the Chairperson, Vice-chair, and the Executive Secretary of the Commission. Participants were drawn from the Ecowas Court of Justice, SADC Court and the East African Court of Justice. I made a presentation on the “Enforcement of the recommendations of the African Commission” and reiterated the fundamental clog in the wheel of the oprationalisation of the mandate of the Commission created by the instrument which left it without an enforcement powers. Whilst the creation of the African Court is expected to complement the protective mandate of the Commission, I raised concern on the provision of Article 36 (4) which require States Parties to accept the competence of the Court to allow access to NGOs and its potential implication for justice.