Botswana has been listed among 24 African countries cited for breach of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) to establish an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR).
The other 23 countries are: Angola, Central African Republic, Cape Verde, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Liberia, Madagascar, Namibia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sao Tome & Principe, Sudan, South Sudan, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The Protocol was adopted by Member States of the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) now African Union (AU) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in June 1998. The Protocol came into force on January 25, 2004.
Only 30 state parties have ratified the Protocol out of which, as at October 2016, seven had made the declaration recognising the competence of the African Court to receive cases from Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and individuals.
African Court document lists the seven good standing state parties as: Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, C├┤te d’Ivoire, Mali, Malawi and Tanzania.
Twenty three state parties have also failed to deposit the declaration recognising the competence of the African Court to receive cases from NGOs and individuals and these are: Algeria, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Kenya, Libya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Nigeria, Niger, Rwanda, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, South Africa, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia and Uganda.
The African Court officially started its operations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in November 2006, and in August 2007 it moved to its seat in Arusha, Tanzania.
NGOs with observer status before the African Commission and individuals can also institute cases directly before the African Court as long as the state against which they are complaining has deposited the Article 34(6) declaration recognising the jurisdiction of the court to accept cases from individuals and NGOs.
Meanwhile Mrs Samia Suluhu Hassan, the Vice President of Tanzania, in a remark to open the Fifth Annual High Level Dialogue on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance in Africa, appealed to the state parties yet to ratify to do so.
She said: “The African Court is for Africans we should all work towards its growth,” and pledged Tanzania’s commitment to continue to support the African Court.
The High Level Dialogue is on the general theme: “Reflecting, Celebrating and Advancing Human and Peoples’ Rights in Africa with a special focus on the Rights of Women”.
Mrs Hassan, however, commended the African Union for the achievements attained over the years especially in the area of human rights.
“We should continue with the efforts towards the full realisation of human rights of our citizens,” she said.
“The bitter truth is that human rights violation is still notable in various parts of our continent, especially among women and children who are mostly affected,” Mrs Hassan said.
She said despite the existing intricate correlation between human rights and women rights; “we still continue to experience among other things the existence practice of female genital mutilation and early marriages, few education opportunities, low wages, human trafficking, domestic abuse and gender based violence”.
Dr Aisha L. Abdullahi, the Commissioner for Political Affairs, African Union Commission, in a statement read on her behalf, encouraged the broadening of the scope of assessment of human rights and women’s rights in Africa.
She said Africa needed to entrench the culture of democracy anchored on constitutionalism, rule of law, and human and people’s right.
The Dialogue is to assess the 13 years of the Maputo Protocol on the Rights of Women; 15 years of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child; 29 years of African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights; and 35 years of the adoption of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The AU has declared 2016 the African Year of Human Rights with particular focus on the Rights of Women.
Four hundred delegates including the representatives of AU Member States; members of the African Governance Platform; academia, researchers, civil society organisations, media, international partners and youth groups are attending.