TWO West African nations, Sierra Leone and Liberia, have expressed willingness to ratify the Protocol for establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and deposit a special declaration to allow individuals and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to directly access the Court.
The assurances were given by President Julius Maada Bio of the Republic of Sierra Leone and President George Weah of the Republic of Liberia, during separate courtesy calls in Freetown and Monrovia, respectively, by the visiting African Court delegation led by its President, Justice Sylvain Oré.
A statement issued by the African Court in Dar es Salaam yesterday shows that President Bio appreciated the Continental Court’s efforts at strengthening human and people’s rights across Africa when receiving the African Court delegation on August 2, 2018 at the State House.
“We are new in office but our commitment to human rights is very strong and you can be rest assured that we will give this particular issue a positive consideration,” he told the delegation also comprising former President of the Court, Justice Gérard Niyungeko and the Registry staff.
President Bio is also quoted in the statement as saying during talks with the Court’s delegation that, “We will look at it and consider the ratification and the declaration. My government will look into the issues and take positive measures about them.”
The Liberian President, Dr George Weah, welcomed the delegation to Monrovia on August 7, 2018, and said that his country was committed to protecting and observing human rights and fully backed the work of the Continental Court.
According to the statement, Dr Weah also assured the delegation of his government’s support towards ratification of the Protocol establishing the African Court, adding: ‘’You have our support in the protection of human rights on our continent.’’
The court’s delegation is on a sensitisation mission as part of the ongoing 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 establishing the AfCHPR and to deposit the special declaration.
So far, 30 out of 55 African Union (AU) Member States have ratified the Protocol and only eight of them have deposited the declaration. They are Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Tanzania and Tunisia.
Sierra Leone and Liberia are yet to ratify the Protocol establishing the Court and deposit the declaration under Article 34(6). ‘’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 the President of the AfCHPR, Justice Sylvain Oré.
The Court delegation held seminars for human rights stakeholders in the two West African countries and also paid courtesy calls on the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Justice, the Legislature, the Judiciary, the Human Rights Commission and the Bar Association, among others.
The AfCHPR was established by virtue of Article 1 of the Protocol to the African Charter 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.
It is stated that 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).
This “universal” ratification will give the Court 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.
The main objective of the sensitisation visits is to enhance the protection of human rights in Africa.