Resolution on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights

We, participants at the Forum on the Participation of NGOs at the 40th Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights,

Considering that a “Resolution on the rights of Indigenous Groups” providing for the establishment of an Experts Working Group on Indigenous Populations was adopted at the 28th Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, held in Cotonou (Benin), in October 2000;

Encouraged by the establishment of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities and the work accomplished by the latter, especially the drafting of a detailed report on Indigenous People;

Considering the report of the Experts Working Group of the African Commission on Indigenous populations published in 2005 which gives the genesis of the situation of indigenous peoples.

Noting with concern the upsurge in grave violations of the rights of the Indigenous People of Africa and the failure of African governments to implement the rights of indigenous people, among others, to education and health recognized by international legal instruments;

Considering the negative impact of the exploitation of natural resources and forests on the health and living conditions of the Indigenous Peoples,

Noting with concern the absence of clear references to indigenous people in the Constitutions and National laws of most African countries with indigenous populations,

Concerned at indigenous peoples’ lack of access to the political decision making bodies and that in most States indigenous people do not own land and are therefore exploited by different producers (farmers, fishermen, hunters, and companies).

We call on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to:

1. Augment the resources of the Working Group on Indigenous populations/communities;

2. Urge Member States which have not yet done so to ratify ILO Convention 169 and all the other international legal instruments such as the UN Declaration on Indigenous People for the protection of indigenous people;

3. Urge Member States to create an environment conducive to the realisation of the rights of indigenous people by adopting national laws, policies and encouraging best practices;

4. Urge Member States to develop policies which cater for the participation of indigenous women in all socio-economic development programmes.

5. Undertake and encourage the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities to undertake, regular country visits and to establish direct linkages with the affected communities;

6. Include issues of indigenous peoples’ in the guidelines for state party reports under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Done in Banjul, 14th November, 2006

Resolution on the Adoption of the “Lilongwe Declaration and Plan of Action on Promoting Access to Justice in the Criminal Justice System In Africa, 2006”

We, the representatives of non-governmental organisations attending the NGO forum preceding the 40th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights,

Considering the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights relating to the right to a fair trial, in particular Articles 7 and 26;

Recalling the resolution on the Right to Recourse and Fair Trial adopted by the Commission at its 11th Ordinary Session in Tunis, Tunisia, in March 1992 and the resolution on the Respect and the Strengthening of the Independence of the Judiciary adopted at the 19th Ordinary Session held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in March 1996;

Further recalling the recommendations of the Seminar on the Right to a Fair Trial in Africa held in collaboration with the African Society of International and Comparative Law and Interights, in Dakar, Senegal, from 9-11 September 1999;

Recognising the Resolution on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in Africa, 1999 (Dakar Declaration);

Further recognising the importance of the right to a fair trial and legal assistance and the need to strengthen the provisions of the African Charter relating to this right;

Taking into account the Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in Africa, 2001;

Noting the concern of African heads of prisons with prison conditions and overcrowding as reflected in the Kampala Declaration on Prison Conditions in Africa 1996 and Ouagadougou Declaration on Accelerating Prison and Penal Reform in Africa 2002 and the role to be played by civil society and paralegals;

1. Urge the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to promote Access to Justice in the Criminal Justice System in Africa by adopting the attached Lilongwe Declaration and Plan of Action;

2. Further urge the secretariat of the Commission to forward the Lilongwe Declaration and Plan of Action to Ministries of Justice and Chief Justice of all States parties, Bar Associations and law schools in Africa and non-governmental organisations with observer status, and to report to the 41st Ordinary Session of the Commission in this regard;

Done in Banjul, 14th November, 2006

Resolution on the Status of Women in Africa and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human And Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa

We, the representatives of non-governmental organisations attending the NGO forum preceding the 40th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights;

Considering the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights relating to the right to a fair trial, in particular Articles 7 and 26;

Recalling the resolution on the Right to Recourse and Fair Trial adopted by the Commission at its 11th Ordinary Session in Tunis, Tunisia, in March 1992 and the resolution on the Respect and the Strengthening of the Independence of the Judiciary adopted at the 19th Ordinary Session held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in March 1996;

Further recalling the recommendations of the Seminar on the Right to a Fair Trial in Africa held in collaboration with the African Society of International and Comparative Law and Interights, in Dakar, Senegal, from 9-11 September 1999;

Recognising the Resolution on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in Africa, 1999 (Dakar Declaration);

Further recognising the importance of the right to a fair trial and legal assistance and the need to strengthen the provisions of the African Charter relating to this right;

Taking into account the Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in Africa, 2001;

Noting the concern of African heads of prisons with prison conditions and overcrowding as reflected in the Kampala Declaration on Prison Conditions in Africa 1996 and Ouagadougou Declaration on Accelerating Prison and Penal Reform in Africa 2002 and the role to be played by civil society and paralegals;

1. Urge the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to promote Access to Justice in the Criminal Justice System in Africa by adopting the attached Lilongwe Declaration and Plan of Action;

2. Further urge the secretariat of the Commission to forward the Lilongwe Declaration and Plan of Action to Ministries of Justice and Chief Justice of all States parties, Bar Associations and law schools in Africa and non-governmental organisations with observer status, and to report to the 41st Ordinary Session of the Commission in this regard;

 

Done in Banjul, November 14th, 2006

Resolution on Strengthening the Responsibility to Protect in Africa

We, the participants of the NGO Forum of the 40th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the 14th African Human Rights Book Fair, held at the Paradise Hotel in Banjul , the Gambia from November 12th – 14th , 2006,

Recall the report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Ssovereignty (ICISS) of 2001 which set the foundation for governmental and civil society effort in achieving international consensus on the Responsibility to Protect,

Note the report of the Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations – Civil Society Relations dated 7 July 2004 which among other things proposed increased civil society participation in the activities of the United Nations,

Mindful of the report of the High – Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Changes (A more secure world: our shared responsibility) dated 1 December 2004 with particular reference to pages 29 – 30 which called for Member States to endorse the Responsibility to Protect,

Further note the report of the United Nations Secretary General entitled ‘In Larger Freedom: Towards Security, Development and Human Rights for All’ particularly paragraph 18 and 19 which call for collective action in tackling human security challenges,

Re-affirm paragraph 138 and 139 of the United Nations Summit Declaration of September 2005, where the international community expressed its determination to its responsibility and readiness to act where national authorities fail to protect their population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity,

Further Re-affirm the September 2005 United Nations Summit Declaration calling for the cooperation of relevant regional organisations to help protect populations from these grave threats,

Deeply concerned at the slow response of the international community to past acts of genocide and crimes against humanity in Rwanda and the continued slow response to the allegations of genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur,

Call on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to:

Re-affirm paragraph 138 and 139 of the September 2005 United Nations Summit Declaration, where governments endorsed their collective responsibility to protect population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity when individual states “manifestly fail” to protect their own populations from these grave threats,

Urge the African Union to accelerate the promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights by ensuring good governance take steps to protect their citizens from avoidable conflicts while ensuring equal participation in resource allocation and distribution,

Call on African States to expedite action towards commitment to the people of Darfur by expanding the mandate of, and increasing financial support for the African Union Mission in Darfur and putting pressure on the government of Sudan to protect the people of Darfur from rape and other forms of gross human rights violation.

Done in Banjul, 14 November, 2006

Resolution on Ethiopia

We, the participants of the NGO Forum of the 40th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the 14th African Human Rights Book Fair, held at the Paradise Hotel in Banjul , the Gambia from November 12th – 14th , 2006;

Recalling that freedom of religion, freedom of opinion and expression, as well as the right to assemble are fundamental rights enshrined in the international instruments ratified by Ethiopia, and notably Articles 8, 9 and 11 respectively of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,

Deeply concerned about the treatment and prison conditions of opposition leaders, journalists, human rights defenders held in Kalitiand other prisons, facing serious charges of attempted genocide, treason, and outrage against the constitutional order, crimes carrying the death penalty under Ethiopian law,

Recalling that in June and November 2005, government security forces killed at least 193 demonstrators protesting against the outcome of parliamentary elections and have wounded 763 others in Addis Ababa and other towns, creating an atmosphere of fear and insecurity among the people,

Observing that freedom of press and access to information have significantly been curtailed following the November 2005 crackdown on the private press; particularly, the arrest of 14 journalists and publishers of private papers, the raid on their offices and confiscation of their office equipment; and the inaccessibility to those people who use the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation as their Internet Service Provider of several private bloggers hosted by private websites run by members of the Ethiopian Diaspora that provide information on political developments in Ethiopia,

Concerned about frequent inter-ethnic conflicts; particularly, between Guji and Gerba/Borena Oromos in southwestern Ethiopia; between members of the Somali and Oromo ethnic groups in Mieso woreda, Eastern Harerge, Southeastern Ethiopia; and even among students of higher learning institutions in Haramaya and Adama Universities, which recently claimed the life of at least one student, injured many others, and caused a summary dismissal from university of scores of students,

Alarmed by the recent atrocities committed by Religious Extremists in the Illubabor and Jimma Zones of Oromia Region, that claimed the lives of at least sixteen people, injured many others, and forced hundreds of people to flee their villages,

Emphaising that the prime responsibility and duty to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Ethiopia lie with the State,

Hereby request the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to adopt a resolution calling the Ethiopian government:

1. to release all arbitrarily detained political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, human rights defenders and journalists,
2. to guarantee to any individual accused of a crime carrying a death sentence the right to a fair trial as provided by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other relevant international human rights instruments, including the right to seek pardon or commutation of sentence,
3. to recognize the role of human rights defenders in the democratization process and the prevalence of the Rule of Law,
4. to guarantee, at all times, the freedoms of opinion and expression, as well as the right to hold peaceful demonstration and political assembly,
5. to observe the provisions of the international human rights instruments ratified by Ethiopia and notably, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR), and its own Constitution,
6. to bring to justice those responsible for the extradjudicial killings of over 193 civilians and six policemen and causing bodily harm to 763 others in June and November 2005, and those religious extremists who committed atrocities on members of other faiths in September and October 2005, and take all appropriate preventive measures so that people would live peacefully regardless of their political, ethnic or religious affiliations.
7. To invite the Special Rapporteurs of the African Commission for Human and Peoples Rights on prisons and human rights defenders to visit and report on the situation in Ethiopia.

Done in Banjul, 14th November, 2006

Recommendation on Torture

We, the participants of the NGO Forum of the 40th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the 14th African Human Rights Book Fair, held at the Paradise Hotel in Banjul , the Gambia  from November 12th – 14th , 2006,

Recalling the Robben Island Guidelines against Torture which were agreed by the ACHPR in 2002 as a preventive measure for the prohibition and prevention of torture;

Taking cognizance of the Follow-up Committee to the Robben Island Guidelines set up  ACHPR;

Considering the need for Professor Nowak, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, to  visit member states and share experiences with those that clearly effected change;

Recommend to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights:

1. To provide the human and financial resources to the Follow-up Committee to the Robben Island Guidelines so that they can promptly complete and implement their Plan of Action.

2. To implement without further delay the Kigali decision of the Ministers of the AU to establish the Human Rights Voluntary Fund.

 

Done in Banjul,  November 14th, 2006

Recommendation on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights

We, the participants of the NGO Forum of the 40th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the 14th African Human Rights Book Fair, held at the Paradise Hotel in Banjul , the Gambia  from November 12th – 14th , 2006,

Deeply concerned about the escalation in the prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS pandemic in the region especially the Sub-Saharan Africa;

Mindful of the high prevalence rates in Swaziland (33.4%), Zimbabwe (20.1%), Namibia (9.6%), Malawi (14.1%) and Cote d’Ivoire (7.1%);

Further concerned at the low response of governments to the pandemic;

Hereby recommend to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights:

1. To closely police the biannual and annual monitoring of the UNGASS indicators and the Universal Access to Prevention, treatment, care and support roadmap respectively and follow up on heads of governments to negotiate the implementation of the promises they made in the UNGASS Declaration such as creating an enabling environment, strengthening civil societies and protecting the rights of people living with the virus, among others;

2. To put in place a mechanism adequately addressing the gaps in the UNGASS commitment.

 

Done in Banjul, November 14th, 2006

Recommendation on Torture

We, the participants of the NGO Forum of the 40th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the 14th African Human Rights Book Fair, held at the Paradise Hotel in Banjul , the Gambia  from November 12th – 14th , 2006,

Recalling the Robben Island Guidelines against Torture which were agreed by the ACHPR in 2002 as a preventive measure for the prohibition and prevention of torture;

Taking cognizance of the Follow-up Committee to the Robben Island Guidelines set up by the ACHPR;

Considering the need for Professor Nowak, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, to visit member states and share experiences with those that clearly effected change;

Recommend to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights:

1. To provide the human and financial resources to the Follow-up Committee to the Robben Island Guidelines so that they can promptly complete and implement their Plan of Action.

2. To implement without further delay the Kigali decision of the Ministers of the AU to establish the Human Rights Voluntary Fund.

 

Done in Banjul,  November 14th, 2006

Resolution on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights

We, participants at the Forum on the Participation of NGOs at the 40th Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights,

Considering that a “Resolution on the rights of Indigenous Groups” providing for the establishment of an Experts Working Group on Indigenous Populations was adopted at the 28th Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, held in Cotonou (Benin), in October 2000;

Encouraged by the establishment of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities and the work accomplished by the latter, especially the drafting of a detailed report on Indigenous People;

Considering the report of the Experts Working Group of the African Commission on Indigenous populations published in 2005 which gives the genesis of the situation of indigenous peoples.

Noting with concern the upsurge in grave violations of the rights of the Indigenous People of Africa and the failure of African governments to implement the rights of indigenous people, among others, to education and health recognized by international legal instruments;

Considering the negative impact of the exploitation of natural resources and forests on the health and living conditions of the Indigenous Peoples,

Noting with concern the absence of clear references to indigenous people in the Constitutions and National laws of most African countries with indigenous populations,

Concerned at indigenous peoples’ lack of access to the political decision making bodies and that in most States indigenous people do not own land and are therefore exploited by different producers (farmers, fishermen, hunters, and companies).

We call on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to:

1. Augment the resources of the Working Group on Indigenous populations/communities;

2. Urge Member States which have not yet done so to ratify ILO Convention 169 and all the other international legal instruments such as the UN Declaration on Indigenous People for the protection of indigenous people;

3. Urge Member States to create an environment conducive to the realisation of the rights of indigenous people by adopting national laws, policies and encouraging best practices;

4. Urge Member States to develop policies which cater for the participation of indigenous women in all socio-economic development programmes.

5. Undertake and encourage the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities to undertake regular country visits and to establish direct linkages with the affected communities;

6. Include issues of indigenous peoples in the guidelines for state party reports under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Done in Banjul, 14th November, 2006

Welcome Remarks by Mrs Hannah Forster at the 40th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR

Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 40th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ and the 14th African Human Rights Book Fair, Karaba Beach Hotel, Banjul, The Gambia, 12-14 November 2006

The Acting Solicitor General of The Republic of The Gambia, Honourable Dr. Henry Carol

Honourable members of the National Assembly

Honourable Secretaries of State

Your Excellencies, Chairperson and Members of the African Commission

Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps

Distinguished Commissioners of the African Commission

Venerable Religious and Traditional Leaders

Representatives of NGOs

Representatives of the Press

Dear Colleagues- facilitators and participants of this forum.

Distinguished ladies and Gentlemen

All Protocols respectfully observed.

I gladly welcome you all to yet another NGOs forum, this time, preceding the 40th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Humans and Peoples’ Rights and the 14th African Human Rights Book fair. Let me once again commend for your encouraging response in your attendance at this forum.

Your attendance in stable great numbers at these NGOs fora is a clear manifestation of your commitment to transform our dear continent into a society governed by democratic principles and the respect for human rights and human dignity, irrespective of race, colour creed or religion.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before going any further, I crave your indulgence to observe a minute of silence for all victims of human rights violations, especially those who have suffered and lost their lives in the last six month. We want to remember in particular all those innocent victims who fell while defending and advocating for human rights. May God grant them eternal rest.

Honoured Guests, ladies and gentlemen

Let me seize this opportunity to welcome everyone present here today, especially those of you who travelled to The Gambia from other parts of African and beyond, irrespective of the insurmountable difficulties in international travels these days.  The African Centre is indeed pleased to also extend, a warm welcome to our eminent resource persons, most of who have been with us through the hurdles over the past years.  Your commitment to the cause of human rights in Africa is indeed laudable.

In the same vein and in the spirit of our long standing partnership, I extend a warm welcome to the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, H. E. Madam Salamatou Sawadago and all other Commissioners’ of the African Commission, here present.

At this juncture, I would like to acknowledge the presence of Mr. Mohammed Mabassa Faal, Executive Member of ACDHRS Governing Council.  Welcome Mr Fall and thank you once again for honouring this forum with your humble attendance.

A special word of welcome to our keynote speaker, the Deputy Solicitor General of The Republic of The Gambia, Dr. Henry Carol and our sincere appreciation to the Attorney General’s Chambers and Department of State for Justice – for their continued support and collaboration at these fora.

The African Centre presents its compliments to the Gambia Government, though your office Sir, for according our participants hospitality and facilitating their easy entry into this ‘smiling coast of Africa’ without problems.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

The Forum on the participation of NGOs in the Ordinary Sessions of the African Commission has over the years, maintained momentum, thanks to the level of seriousness that participants continue to dedicate to its proceedings.  Indeed you will agree with me that NGOs are an indispensable force to be reckoned with in our continent today, particularly in their laudable contribution to the human rights movement.

The forum on the participation of NGO in the work of the African commission has over the years maintained momentum mostly as a result of serious deliberations that has characterised its proceedings. Moreover, the resolutions and recommendations passed by the forum to the Commission have continued to received attention from the Commission as they give a true picture of the human rights situation on the continent, which aims at facilitating the work of the Commission as well as promoting the effective contribution of the African human rights community and their deliberations.

We have increasingly witnessed the great expertise with which NGOs have successfully monitored human rights situations around the continent, prescribed corrective measures to avoid aggravated situations and got effectively involved to address existing human rights violations.

Through these processes, we have learned about the importance of collaboration in the efforts to ensure the respect for human rights.  Most importantly, empirical evidence has manifested the significance of working with diverse sectors for the realisation of our common interests. It is indubitable that we need to support, not only the work of NGOs in this field, but also to work with state authorities as well as intergovernmental organisations, to achieve our desired goals.  It is only in this way, that we can safeguard the interest of our fellow human kind to be treated with due respect to their inalienable, interdependent and universal human rights and human dignity.

Honourable guests, ladies and gentlemen,

The organisation of the likes of this forum is necessitated by the unimpressive performance of our continent in the democracy and good governance sector, as a result of which our continent has witnessed vast instability accompanied by immeasurable abuse of human rights.  This forum would therefore, create an avenue for strategic discussion of the issues that are worrisome and at the heart of our very operations.

Our discussion during these three days of the forum will revolve around issues that threaten the human rights and democracy situation in Africa with an aim of charting a way forward through the formulation of constructive recommendations and resolutions, where necessary.

Among other issues, we shall be looking at the general situation relating to human rights and democracy in the different regions of Africa; addressing how corruption affect our human rights performance; updating ourselves with the developments relating to the recently operational African Court; studying the situation of human rights defenders; also informing ourselves about the developments in women’s rights; plunging into the globally accepted commitment of the “responsibility to protect”; and scrutinising possible networking strategies between ECOWAS and NGOs and/or the African Commission.

Based on our specific areas of interest, we shall discuss in-depth, the above human rights issues in addition to other areas such as torture, death penalty, refugee, minority and indigenous peoples rights, human rights education and policing and human rights, to name but a few.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

As we gather here to participate at this forum, our main objective is to come out with substantial and constructive results, which we shall forward to the African Commission at the end of these 3 day, for consideration in the execution of their work.  Let us therefore, effectively use this opportunity to bring up pressing issues in our respective countries and regions, bearing in mind that this is an avenue for us to have an impact in policy issues governing our states and continent at large.

As envisaged, let us also use this forum, to strengthen the lobby groups for the different themes addressed.  In particular, we must continue to lobby for ratification, domestication and implementation of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women, which endorses affirmative action to promote the equal participation of women in the development process.  Although the Protocol has entered into force, we can all attest to the fact that ratifications are still on the low side, with only 20 out of 53 AU member states ratifying.  (Those coming from non ratifying states must work towards ratifications in their countries to ensure involvement of the 2nd half of human rights).

Likewise, we must all put our hands together to push for the effective operationalisation of the African Court, especially for the need to have state declarations under article 34(6), permitting NGOs and other non-state parties to present cases before the court.  As at now, only one country, Burkina Faso, has made this declaration. (got a lot more work to do in this area)

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen

It is our responsibility as Human Rights Activists, to continue to live up to the ideals we preach in order to consolidate the foundation already laid – of a perpetual struggle against human rights violation, impunity and other forms of injustice, for liberty is the very essence of our being.  I would therefore, urge you to continue supporting the work of the African Commission in this era of instability as manifested in situations in Darfur (Sudan), Zimbabwe, Northern Uganda, Northern Democratic of Congo, and other fragile areas.  These are indeed great causes of concern, which we must relentless seek to resolve.

Before concluding my statement, I would like to welcome you once again to this Forum, and to the 14th African Human Rights Book Fair, which runs concurrently the Forum. Please find time to register your presence at the stands as numerous and interesting publications from various Civil Society Organisation would be on display.

Thank you all, “Jerrejef”, “Alabarak” and I wish fruitful deliberations over these 3 days.

 

ACDHRS