AU sets out limits on NGO recognition criteria

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THE African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights has delivered a landmark ruling, paving way for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to file requests for advisory opinions before the Court.

In a decision delivered by a panel of seven judges under its President, Justice Sylvain Ore, the Court ruled that “only organizations with an observer status before or a memorandum of understanding with the African Union (AU) and recognised by the same” could bring such requests.

It was making a ruling following an application filed by a Nigerian NGO, the Socio- Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) which was registered in 2004 and based in Nigeria with a primary objective of promotion of transparency and accountability in the public and private sectors through human rights.

The Pan African Court President, Ore, Vice-President Justice Ben Kioko and Justices Gerard Ninguyeko, El Hadji Guisse, Rataa Ben Achoiur, Sollomy Bossa and Angelo Matusse unanimously declared that the Court does not have personal jurisdiction to give an opinion on this particular request.

The matter that was filed at the Registry of the Court on March 14, 2013, the latter transmitting it to the African Commission as well as to member states of the AU so that those interested could submit written observations on the request – after which the following made submissions: Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia and the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria (as amicus curiae).

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