African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
31 Bijilo Annex Layout, Kombo North District
PO Box 673
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) was established in 1987 to oversee and interpret the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (also known as the Banjul Charter). The Charter is an international human rights instrument that is intended to promote and protect human rights and basic freedoms in Africa.
Under the Charter, the Commission is charged with three major functions, the:
• Promotion of human and peoples’ rights (article 45(1))
• Protection of human and peoples’ rights (article 45(2))
• Interpretation of the Charter (article 45(3)).
The Charter provides for a ‘communication procedure’, under which states, organisations and individuals may take a complaint to the Commission alleging that a State Party to the Charter has violated one or more of the rights contained in the Charter.
Following consideration of complaints, the Commission can make recommendations to the State Party concerned and to the AU Assembly. The Commission’s mandate is quasi-judicial and, as such, its final recommendations are not legally binding and there is no mechanism that can compel states to abide by its recommendations.
The Commission may use its ‘good offices’ to secure a settlement at any stage of the proceedings. In emergency situations, where the life of a victim is in imminent danger, the Commission can invoke provisional measures under rule 111 of its Rules of Procedure requesting the state to delay any action pending its final decision on the matter.
Article 62 of the Charter requires each State Party to submit a report every two years on the legislative or other measures taken with a view to giving effect to the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Charter.
In July 1979, the OAU Assembly adopted a resolution calling on the Secretary-General to form a committee of experts to draft an African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights providing, among other things, for mechanisms to promote and protect the rights embodied in the Charter. The group’s draft was unanimously adopted at a 1981 meeting of the OAU Heads of State and Government in Nairobi, Kenya, and the Charter came into force on 21 October 1986. This date is now celebrated as African Human Rights Day. The full Charter text is available on the Commission’s website under ‘Legal Instruments’.
The Charter provided for a Human Rights Commission to be established within the OAU. The Commission was officially inaugurated on 2 November 1987 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, after its members had been elected by the OAU Assembly in July of the same year. The Commission’s Headquarters moved to Banjul, Gambia, in 1989.
The Commission consists of 11 members elected by the AU Assembly from experts nominated by State Parties to the Charter. The Assembly considers equitable geographical and gender representation in electing the Commission members. Terms are for six years, and members are eligible for re-election. The Commissioners serve in their personal capacities.
In April 2005, the AU issued nomination guidelines excluding senior civil servants and diplomatic representatives.
The Commission elects a chairperson and vice-chairperson as the Bureau. Their terms are for two years, renewable once. The Bureau coordinates the Commission’s activities and supervises and assesses the Secretariat’s work. The Bureau is also empowered to take decisions between sessions on matters of emergency.
The Secretariat provides administrative, technical and logistical support to the Commission. Staff are appointed by the Chairperson of the AU Commission.
The Commission holds two ordinary sessions a year, usually for 10 to 15 days each in March/ April and October/November. Extraordinary sessions may also be held. The working sessions may be open or closed to the public. The Commission may invite states, national liberation movements, specialised institutions, national human rights institutions (NHRIs), non- governmental organisations (NGOs) or individuals to take part in its sessions.
Ordinary session agendas are usually drawn up by the Commission’s Secretariat in consultation with the Bureau. More detail about ordinary and extraordinary session agendas is on the website under ‘Sessions’.
The Commission submits a report of its activities to all AU Assembly ordinary sessions. These reports are considered by the Executive Council on behalf of the Assembly. The Commission may publish information about its protective activities only after the Executive Council and Assembly have adopted the report. The Executive Council can withhold authorisation for publication of these reports and has done so.
Chairperson: Zainabo Sylvie Kayitesi, Rwanda, appointed as a Commissioner in 2007
Vice Chairperson: Mohamed Bechir Khalfallah, Tunisia, appointed as a Commissioner in 2009
Maya Sahli Fadel, Algeria, appointed 2011
Reine Alapini-Gansou, Benin, appointed 2005
Pacifique Manirakiza, Burundi, appointed 2011
Lucy Asuagbor, Cameroon, appointed 2010
Lawrence Murugu Mute, Kenya, appointed 2013
Soyata Maiga, Mali, appointed 2007
Yeung Kam John Yeung Sik Yeun, Mauritius, appointed 2007
Faith Pansy Tiakula, South Africa, appointed 2005
Med S K Kaggwa, Uganda, appointed 2011
See the Commission website (under the ‘About Us’ tab) for a full list of functions of each commissioner, including membership of working groups and states they work on.
African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights
PO Box 6274
UR of Tanzania
Tel: +255 732 979 509
Fax: +255 732 979 503
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/African-Court-on-Human-and-Peoples- Rights/354165574594815
Registrar: Robert Eno, Cameroon (appointed in January 2012)
The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) has jurisdiction over all cases and disputes submitted to it concerning the interpretation and application of the:
• African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which is the main African human rights instrument
• Protocol that established the Court
• Any other relevant human rights instrument ratified by the State Party concerned.
The Court was established in 1998 to complement and reinforce the functions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Court can make binding decisions, including orders of compensation or reparation, while the Commission can only make recommendations.
Under article 5 of the 1998 Protocol establishing the Court, the Commission, State Parties to the Protocol and African inter-governmental organisations are entitled to submit cases to the Court. Non-governmental organisations with observer status before the Commission and individuals from State Parties that have made a declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the Court can also institute cases directly in accordance with article 34(6).
As of 1 September 2014, 27 states had ratified the Protocol (see www.au.int/en/treaties for the full list).
The Court was established by article 1 of the Protocol to the Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which was adopted in June 1998 by OAU members, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The Protocol came into force on 25 January 2004, 30 days after it had been ratified by 15 Member States.
The first judges were elected in January 2006, in Khartoum, Sudan, and were sworn in before the AU Assembly on 2 July 2006, in Banjul, Gambia. The Court officially started operations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in November 2006. In August 2007, it moved to Arusha, UR of Tanzania.
The Court initially dealt mainly with operational and administrative issues. Interim Rules of Procedure were adopted in June 2008 and final Rules of Court in 2010. The first application was received in 2008, first judgment delivered in 2009 and first public hearing held in
The Court consists of 11 judges elected by the AU Assembly from African jurists nominated by State Parties to the Protocol. The Assembly considers equitable geographical, legal tradition and gender representation. The judges serve in their personal capacities. They are elected by secret ballot for six-year terms, renewable once (with the exception of some of those elected at the first election). No two judges may be of the same nationality. The judges elect a president and vice-president who serve two-year terms, renewable once.
The composition of the Court and election of judges is governed by articles 11 to 15 of the Protocol establishing the Court. The President of the Court works on a full-time basis while the other 10 judges work part-time. A registrar assists the President with managerial and administrative work.
The Court sits four times a year in two-week ordinary sessions. Extraordinary sessions may also be held.
Augustino Stephen Lawrence Ramadhani, UR of Tanzania
Elected President in September 2014 for a two-year term
First elected as Judge of the Court in July 2010 for a six-year term
Elsie Nwanwuri Thompson, Nigeria
Elected Vice-President in September 2014 for a two-year term
First elected as Judge of the Court in July 2010 for a six-year term
1 Gérard Niyungeko, Burundi, was the first President of the Court, 2006–08, and re-elected President for 2010–12.
Jean Mutsinzi, Rwanda, was President 2008–10. Sophia A B Akuffo, Ghana, was President 2012–14.
In order of precedence: Gérard Niyungeko, Burundi1
Elected in 2006 for a six-year term; re-elected in July 2012 for a six-year term
Fatsah Ouguergouz, Algeria
Elected in 2006 for a four year term; re-elected in July 2010 for a six-year term
Duncan Tambala, Malawi
Elected in July 2010 for a six-year term
Sylvain Oré, Côte d’Ivoire
Elected in July 2010 for a four-year term; re-elected in June 2014 for a six-year term
El Hadji Guissé, Senegal
Elected in January 2006 for a four-year term; re-elected in July 2012 for a six-year term
Ben Kioko, Kenya
Elected in July 2012 for a six-year term
Solomy Balungi Bossa, Uganda
Elected in June 2014 for a six-year term
Rafaa Ben Achour, Tunisia
Elected in June 2014 for a six-year term
Angelo Vasco Matusse, Mozambique
Elected in June 2014 for a six-year term
African Court of Justice/African Court of Human Rights and Justice
The AU Constitutive Act provided for an African Court of Justice to be established as one of the AU’s principal organs. The Protocol of the Court was adopted in July 2003.2
However, the Court did not become operational. The AU Assembly decided at its July 2008
Summit to merge the African Court of Justice and Human Rights with the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (see previous entry) into an African Court of Justice and Human Rights.
The Assembly adopted the 2008 Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice to merge the courts (Assembly/AU/Dec.196 (XI)). Article 28 of the 2008 Protocol provides that the African Court of Justice and Human Rights shall have jurisdiction over all cases and legal disputes that relate to “the interpretation and application of the Constitutive Act, Union treaties
and all subsidiary legal instruments, the African Charter and any question of international law”.
1 President 2006–08 and 2010–12.
2 The 2003 Protocol on the African Court of Justice entered into force in February 2009, 30 days after 15 Member States had ratified it. As at 1 September 2014, 44 Member States had signed the
Protocol (most recently South Sudan on 24 January 2013) and 16 had ratified it (most recently Gambia on 30 April 2009).
In June 2014, the Assembly adopted a further Protocol on Amendments to the Protocol on the
Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights (Assembly/AU/Dec.529(XXIII)).
Transition to the new Court will begin after 15 Member States have ratified the 2008 Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights. As at September 2014, 30 states had signed the 2008 Protocol (most recently Madagascar on 31 January 2014) and five had ratified it (most recently Benin on 28 June 2012).
African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
African Union Commission Department of Social Affairs PO Box 3243
Roosevelt Street (Old Airport Area) W21K19
Chairperson: Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Ethiopia
Secretary: Mariama Mohamed Cisse, Niger (appointed in 2007)
The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) draws its mandate from articles 32–46 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), which was adopted by the OAU Heads of State and Government on 11 July 1990 and came into force on 29 November 1999. The Charter provides for an 11-member committee of experts. The Committee is supported by a secretariat.
The Committee’s functions, as set out in article 42 of the Charter, include to:
1. Promote and protect the rights enshrined in the Charter, particularly:
(i) collect and document information, commission inter-disciplinary assessment of situations on African problems in the fields of the rights and welfare of children, organise meetings,
encourage national and local institutions concerned with the rights and welfare of children, and where necessary give its views and make recommendations to governments
(ii) formulate and lay down principles and rules aimed at protecting the rights and welfare of children in Africa
(iii) cooperate with other African, international and regional institutions and organisations concerned with the promotion and protection of the rights and welfare of children.
2. Monitor the implementation and ensure protection of the rights enshrined in the Charter
3. Interpret the provisions of the Charter at the request of a State Party, an AU/OAU institution or any other person or institution recognised by the AU/OAU
4. Perform other tasks as entrusted by the Assembly.
The Committee is convened twice a year and an extraordinary session can be convened if necessary.
The 11 members serve in their personal capacities. They are elected by the Assembly in a secret ballot from a list of people nominated by States Parties to the Charter (ACRWC Charter, article 34). Candidates are required to be of high moral standing, integrity, impartiality and competence in matters of the rights and welfare of children. Under the Charter, terms are
for five years and members may not be re-elected. In June 2014, the AU Assembly endorsed an Executive Council recommendation to amend article 37(1) of the Charter to provide for members to be elected for five-year terms, renewable once, and that the terms of four members elected at the first election would expire after two years and six after four years. The amendment was to be presented for adoption at the AU Summit in January 2015.
Bureau members are elected from within the Committee for two-year terms (ACRWC Charter, article 38).
July 2010 to July 2015
Fatima Delladj-Sebaa, Algeria Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Ethiopia Amal Muhammad El Hengari, Libya Félicité Muhimpundu, Rwanda
Clement Julius Mashamba, UR of Tanzania
Alfas Muvavarigwa Chitakunye, Zimbabwe
January 2011 to January 2016
Julia Sloth-Nielsen, South Africa
May 2013 to May 2018
Joseph Ndayisenga, Burundi
Azza Ashmawy, Egypt
Sidikou Aissatou Alassane Moulaye, Niger
Suzanne Aho-Assouma, Togo
Bureau April 2013 to 2015
Chairperson: Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Ethiopia First Vice-President: Fatima Delladj-Sebaa, Algeria Second Vice-President: Julia Sloth-Nielsen, South Africa
Third Vice-President: Clement Julius Mashamba, UR of Tanzania
Rapporteur: Alfas Muvavarigwa Chitakunye, Zimbabwe