African Court launches its initial judgments dossier

Researchers and practitioners can now easily access the court's decade-long operations in one booklet


Tanzania’s Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan (Centre) in a group picture with female judges of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights at its Arusha seat. PHOTOS | JOE LIHUNDI

SUNDAY July 14, 2019

By Joe Lihundi

Tranquility News Reporter, Arusha

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPRs) has launched its first volume of law report booklet which covers all judgments it delivered between its inception and 2016.

All the court’s decisions, including brief summary of the parts, key words and corresponding paragraph numbers, have been systematically edited and collated into the single publication.

It includes spate and dissenting opinions, advisory opinions, rulings, decisions, procedural orders and order for provisional measures.

A subject matter index highlights various subjects of the cases dealt with.

Justice Ben Kioko (Right), the Vice President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the Registrar of the court, Mr Robert Eno, display a copy of the maiden Law Report of the court in Arusha recently. PHOTOS | CORRESPONDENT

The book culminates the court’s efforts to simplify access to its jurisprudence by providing all decisions of its first decade of operations in one publication.

“The court has significantly lessened the trouble that researchers and practitioners often encounter when looking for the court’s jurisprudence,” Justice Ben Kioko, the AfCHPRs vice president, said when launching the book in Arusha recently.

He said the court itself would be the biggest beneficiary of the publication available in both hard and soft copies, as it would find it far easier to cross reference its own jurisprudence.

“This sets the court on a course that will enable it to deliver a jurisprudence that remains stable and consistent,” he added.

From Right: Lady justices of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights Stella Isibhakhomen Anukam from Nigeria, Bensaoula Chafika from Algeria, Marie Thérèse Mukamulisa from Rwanda, Tujilane Rose Chizumila from Malawi and Imani Daud Aboud from Tanzania follow up on the launching of the court’s first Law report.

The registrar of the court, Dr Robert Eno, said the book had wet the court’s appetite to come with other editions and that the processes for publishing the second volume had started.

The AfCHPRs has since 2006 positioned itself as a tool for regional integration as well as for peace, justice, good governance and respect for human rights on the continent.

“Its jurisprudence has within the short period reinforced the wildly held view that respect for human rights provides a foundation for interest of political structures and human freedom,” Dr Eno said.

Tanzania’s assistant Human Rights director Alicia Mbuya said the country was proud to see fruits of its interaction with the continental court.

A section of members of the legal fraternity, including academia, follow up on the launching of the Law Report of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Decisions reported in the launched book was a testimony that the Tanzania government had contributed to law making in the continental court, she said, explaining: “Over a half of cases filed and still pending before the court originates from Tanzania.”

Tanzania is one of nine states that have made the declaration allowing individuals and non-governmental organisations to file cases directly before the African court.

Ms Mbuya, who represented the Tanzania Solicitor General, said as a result of its presence in AfCHPRs, Tanzania was also a state with highest number of judgments against it, especially on merits.

“The same applies to the orders for provisional measures issued by the court,” she added. Such level of participation required significant investment in human and financial resources for an administration that had not been used to high pace of international human rights litigation, she noted.

The AfCHPRs has jurisdiction over all cases and disputes submitted to it concerning interpretation and application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the protocol and any other relevant human rights instrument ratified by the states concerned.

The President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Justice Sylvain Ore (Left), hands over the court’s plaque to the Tanzania’s Vice President, Ms Samia Suluhu Hassan, when the later attended the swearing-in ceremony for three judges at the court’s seat in Arusha.

However, only nine out of 30 state parties to the protocol have made the declaration recognising the competence of the court to receive cases from NGOs and individuals.

These are Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Malawi, Tanzania and Tunisia.

African states, which have ratified the protocol, are Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Comoros, Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Lesotho, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Nigeria, Niger, Rwanda, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, South Africa, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia and Uganda.

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