Saturday August 11, 2018
By Joe Lihundi
Tranquility News Reporter, Arusha
The sensitisation tour of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in West African countries is paying off, as Liberia is also willing to ratify the protocol establishing the court and to deposit the special declaration under Article 34(6) to allow individuals and NGOs to access it directly.
Sierra Leone’s State House Media and Communications Unit said in a statement a week ago that President Julius Maada had promised to ratify the same instruments of the continental court and institution in the framework of the African Union (AU).
You’ve our support in protection of human rights on our continent,” Liberia President George Weah.
The main objective of the court’s sensitisation visits is to enhance the protection of human rights in Africa and “universal” ratification of the protocol will give it the legitimacy it needs to effectively discharge its mandate.
Since December 2010, the court has carried out continent-wide promotion programmes which have so far seen it undertake 25 national sensitisations.
President George Weah of Liberia said during a courtesy call in Monrovia by the visiting African Court delegation led by its President, Justice Sylvain Oré, that his country was committed to protecting and observing human rights and fully backed the work of the continental court.
Other members of the delegation included the former president of the court, Justice Gérard Niyungeko, and the registry staff.
Dr Weah assured the delegation of his government‘s support towards ratification of the protocol, adding: “You’ve our support in protection of human rights on our continent”.
The sensitisation visits are part of the on-going efforts of the court to interact with different stakeholders in order to deepen their understanding of the court’s mission and to encourage states to ratify the protocol and to deposit the special declaration.
So far, 30 out of 55 AU member states have ratified the protocol and only eight of them have deposited the declaration, namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Tanzania and Tunisia.
Both Sierra Leone and Liberia are yet to ratify the Protocol establishing the Court and deposit the declaration.
“Sierra Leone and Liberia have made tremendous democratic gains in recent years and I encourage them to ratify the protocol and to deposit the declarations,’’ underscored Justice Oré.
The court delegation held seminars for human rights stakeholders in the two West African countries and also paid courtesy calls on ministers for Foreign Affairs, Justice, the Legislature, the Judiciary as well as human rights commission and bar associations, among others.
The African Court was established by virtue of Article 1 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to complement the protective mandate of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, with a view to enhancing the protection of human rights on the continent.
The success of the court as a human rights protection mechanism requires a wider ratification of the protocol by member states, as well as their acceptance of the competence of the court, by making the declaration under Article 34(6).