Statement by Mrs Hannah Forster on behalf of Participants of the Forum of NGOs at the Official Opening of the 45th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR

Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 45th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 13th May 2009, Kairaba Beach Hotel, Banjul, The Gambia

The Honourable Attorney General and Minister of Justice of The Republic of The Gambia, represented by Ms. Awa Bah, Acting Solicitor General and Legal Secretary;

Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs and Gambians Abroad of The Republic of The Gambia, represented by Ms Amie Drammeh;

My Lord, Abdul Karim Savage, Chief Justice of the Republic of The Gambia;

Your Excellencies, Honourable Ministers and Secretaries of State;

Honourable Members of the National Assembly here present;

Your Excellencies, Madam Chairperson – and Honourable Commissioners of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR);

Your Excellencies, Representatives of the Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child;

Madam Yetunde Teriba, Head of Gender and Outreach, Women, Gender and Development Directorate of the African Union Commission

Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps;

Distinguished Members of the Governing Council of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS);

Your Excellency, Mr. Patrice Vahard, Senior Human Rights Advisor of the United Nations Office for West Africa, based in Dakar;

Your Excellencies, Heads of Delegations and Distinguished State Representatives;

Venerable Religious and Traditional Leaders;

Representatives of National Human Rights Institutions;

Fellow Members of the NGO Forum Steering Committee

Representatives of National and International NGOs;

Representatives of the African Spanish Network of Women for a Better World ;

Representatives of the Press;

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;

All protocols respectfully observed

It is an honour for me to stand before this distinguished gathering of the African human rights community, once again, with the responsibility to give a statement on behalf of all my colleagues of the Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 45th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (NGO Forum), held here in Banjul, The Gambia.

On behalf of all the participants of the NGO Forum, and indeed on my own behalf, I wish to thank the Honourable Chairperson and Members of the African Commission, most sincerely, for affording us this opportunity.

In addition, all participants at the Forum would like to take this opportunity to congratulate H.E. The Chairperson on her recent appointment to the International Criminal Court and to wish her well in all her future endeavours.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Please allow me to also express our gratitude to the Government and people of The Republic of The Gambia for their hospitality, in facilitating the activities of the 45th Ordinary Session and to reiterate the appreciation of the participants of the Forum of NGOs for the warmth accorded them since their arrival in the smiling coast of Africa after sojourning in other lands.  We would also like to extend special thanks to The Attorney General and Minister of Justice of The Gambia for taking time to delegate a representative to address the Forum at its Opening Ceremony.

Permit me to also put on record the determination of the African NGO Community and its partners for braving all challenges to ensure they participate at the Forum and indeed at this session of the African Commission.  We recognise the immense hurdles faced in getting to The Gambia but they have been surmountable due to the passion all of you have as well as the importance you attach to the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

In keeping with tradition, the Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 45th Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, commonly referred to as The NGO Forum was held from the 9-11 May 2009, a few days ago before the commencement of this Session of the Commission.

As we celebrate 30 years of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), we also commemorate the Anniversary of the Durban Racism Conference (WCAR) among others.  Whilst we can claim progress in these specific areas of endeavour, a lot more remains to be done.

The Forum, while applauding the significant and positive developments in the human rights and democracy on the continent, observed an improvement in the respect for human rights, good governance and the rule of law in some states.

In applauding these developments among others, the Forum asserted that Africa continues to face serious human rights challenges characterised by violence, conflict, poverty and insecurity.  Internal political strife, disease, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings continue to bring disorientation to the majority of citizens of the affected countries, particularly to women and children.

The full report of the Forum together with the adopted resolutions and recommendations will be forwarded, for the kind consideration of your august body, as our contribution to your deliberations at the 45th Session.  I, however, crave your indulgence to highlight and share with you some of the concerns and evolving issues raised during the Forum.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Instances of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in varying degrees were cited in Central African Republic, DRC, Eritrea, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Kenya, Madagascar, Somalia, and The Sudan.

The Forum received reports of arbitrary arrests and illegal detentions in all of the countries cited above and hereby urge the African Commission to call on the relevant authorities to respect their constitutional provisions, and to abide by their international obligations.

The Forum noted with regret the continuing resurgence of rebel movements and attacks has resulted in the death of many civilians particularly in the DRC.  The Forum requests the African Commission to urge the above-mentioned State to ensure that all parties to the conflict adopt an immediate ceasefire and respect international human rights law.  It is desirable that all those responsible for atrocities are brought to justice in the Central African Republic, DRC, and Somalia in order to ensure that a climate of impunity is not nurtured.

The recent assassinations in Guinea Bissau together with the emergence of narcotic democracy was also a source for concern, not to mention the eminent breakdown in governance should action not be taken in resolving the situation in Guinea Conakry.  We hereby call on the African Commission to consider conducting fact finding missions particularly in these two countries to ascertain the situation and to work with the African Union to find a speedy resolution.

The Forum applauded the adoption of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (The African Democracy Charter) since it offers, among others, guarantees against undemocratic and unconstitutional change of government.  It was noted, however, that the attainment of true democracy remains a daunting task in many an African country and while this document generated a lot of interest, only two states (namely, Mauritania and Ethiopia) have ratified this treaty.  As it is yet to enter into force, The Forum would therefore like to take this opportunity to request states to ratify and domesticate this instrument which would definitely go a long way towards contributing to the consolidation of democracy in Africa.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

There is no doubt, that the heightening violations in some of these countries already indicate warning signs of deterioration in the system. We cannot but recognise the efforts of the African Commission in rising to the occasion and adding their voice to the alarming situations in Kenya and Somalia.  However, we await reports of follow up missions to these and other countries undergoing conflict.

We welcome the unity governments in both Kenya and Zimbabwe and the ensuing efforts to return to normalcy.  The Forum requests the African Commission, to urge the African Union to encourage the Government of Zimbabwe to live up to its obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and to implement the recommendations contained in the African Commission’s fact-finding report to Zimbabwe as well as the recommendations of the United Nations Special Envoy on Human Settlement Issues pertaining to the provision of aid and protection to the victims of the forced evictions and demolitions.

Furthermore, we call on the African Commission to constitute a fact finding mission comprising the Special Rapporteurs of Human Rights Defenders, Freedom of Expression, Rights of Women, and Refugees as well as the Chairman of the Working Group on Torture to visit and assess the situation in Zimbabwe.

The respect for freedom of the press continues to be a challenge on our continent with the constant formulation of repressive laws, harassment, intimidation, killings and arbitrary detention in many an African country, particularly, Angola, Lesotho, Swaziland, Sudan and Zimbabwe.  We urge the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression in Africa to investigate the discrimination of the media, the existence of redundant laws, especially electoral laws in the aforementioned countries and to make recommendations in order to assist them in addressing the situation.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

The situation of Human Rights Defenders remains a cause for concern and the Forum heard reports of harassment, intimidation and arrests of HRDs. Moreover, it was revealed that there were laws in some countries curtailing freedom of association, freedom of expression; among other restrictive laws.

Similarly, the Forum considered the situation of African refugees and internally displaced persons and attention was drawn to the increasing numbers of persons who are forced to leave their homes as a result of insecurity, poverty and conflict.  The need to offer special protection particularly to women and girl children who in most cases find themselves open to abuse as a result of breakdown in security as is the risk faced by migration under hazardous circumstance, which continue to claim the lives of the youth cannot be overemphasised.

The Forum noted that much work remains to be done in this area and continues to urge the Commission to encourage the Special Rapporteur on Refugees to look into the phenomenon of returnees and migrant workers and make recommendations to the African Commission on the matter.

The Forum welcomes the renewal of the mandate of the Working Group on Indigenous Communities but continues to call for the creation of a separate mechanism on Minorities. Considering that the definition of minorities remains elusive, it would be useful to initiate the setting up of a group to look into the legal and social status of minorities.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

The fate and discrimination facing Lesbian, Gays, Bisexual, Transgendered and Intersex (LGBTI) Peoples was focussed on at this Forum.  After two panels which shed light and provided much needed information on this group of persons, The Forum felt that this was an area that has to be given more attention and calls on the African Commission to provide space which will facilitate the better understanding of LGBTI Persons. Reports of violence, harassment and intimidation abound in many African countries directed at them. The Forum urges The African Commission to call on states not to criminalize and to repeal laws that discriminate against this group of people and to ensure that the guiding light of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) – namely of providing all human rights for all of us becomes a reality.

In the same vein, we recognised that disability is not synonymous with lack of ability and call on the African Commission to integrate and mainstream the rights of people living with disability in their work.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

While noting that the application of the death penalty and the use of torture continue to take place in some countries, The Forum requests the African Commission to urge states to prohibit torture and to condemn the death penalty and to further urge them to commit themselves to its abolition.

The Forum reiterates its call on States and all stakeholders to promote and use the Robben Island Guidelines, an instrument which could contribute greatly towards an increase in the observance of human rights as well as a decrease in the use of torture.  Furthermore, The Forum also proposed that the African Commission review the name of the Follow up Committee to reflect the ‘Prevention of Torture’, which is the main aim of the Guidelines.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

The continuing depletion of Africa’s natural resources, which has greatly contributed towards the deterioration of the environment; displacement of communities and untold poverty in respective countries was also reviewed.  The need to put in place a working group to assist in the formulation of strategies to tackle this challenge would not fall amiss.  In the same vein, the Forum urges the African Commission to conduct studies in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and to ensure that it remains on their agenda of future sessions, particularly the right to food and indeed the right to water, as well as put in place effective mechanisms to address issues of poverty and deprivation.

The importance of human rights education and capacity building was also underscored and in so doing the Forum emphasised the necessity of popularising the various documents emanating particularly from the African Union, the African Commission, the United Nations to ensure that the messages contained therein reach our constituents. The Forum also agreed on the need to ensure that all and sundry to remain engaged and familiar with the procedures of the Commission.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of the participants, I would like to restate the readiness and willingness of the African NGO community, our commitment as partners in the process and the determination to place all our expertise and resources at the disposal of the African Commission in the realization of the various objectives directed at uplifting the lives of the African peoples, a goal we all share.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Participants to the Forum of NGOs noted with satisfaction the progress made so far in the operationalization of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Justice and urge states to speedily ratify the Protocol to the African Court on Human Rights and Justice to further enhance the justice system in Africa.

In the same vein, we wish to urge all African states to ratify and to expedite action on the domestication and effective implementation of the Rome Statutes.

The Forum congratulates Republic of Senegal for putting in place all the constitutional requirements for the execution of the mandate given by AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government on the issue of Hissene Habre  and urge the African Commission to request an update on the process.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

The situation of women and children, particularly girls is pathetic in most African countries.  We have seen an increase in gender based violence; the institutionalisation of harmful traditional practices, trafficking, abduction, sexual abuse and violence have continued unabated, particularly in areas of armed conflict.  The need to urge states to identify the causes and consequences with a view to taking all necessary measures to prevent and eradicate them cannot be overemphasised.

We further recommend the establishment of closer links between the African Commission, the Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the other organs of the African Union Commission to provide a solid platform for the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa.

The entry into force of the Protocol to the African Charter relating to the Rights of Women in Africa indeed marked a major step in the promotion and protection of the rights of women in Africa.  We congratulate all the 27 countries that have ratified the Protocol but fervently hope that universal ratifications by other states would ensue.  It is our expectation to see a lot of progress made in this area will be consolidated during the observation of the African Women’s Decade 2010-2020.  We therefore, call on the African Commission to urge states that have not ratified to do so as soon as is possible and to urge those who have ratified to proceed with the formulation of advocacy strategies for its domestication and implementation.  The Forum while acknowledging the important role of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa in all these activities are poised to collaborate and support work in this area.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

The Forum further urges States to replicate policies at the national level in conformity with the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa.

Your Excellencies,  Members of the African Commission, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

It would be remiss of me to conclude this statement without making mention of the wave of impunity that remains very disconcerting on the continent.  Corruption is rife to say the least.   While congratulating the international community, the Forum recognises that the responsibility of states to protect its citizens and to ensure that violators are brought to book, continue to be tested. We urge states to take their obligations seriously and to implement these provisions as dictated by the rule of law.

Your Excellency, Madam Chairperson, Distinguished Commissioners, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the true spirit of the African Union’s Constitutive Act in which the Heads of State of Africa professed a ‘common vision of a united and strong Africa, energised by partnerships between governments and all segments of civil society’, representatives at this Forum reaffirmed their commitment to the reinforcement of this partnership with the African Union and all its organs, particularly, the African Commission with which they enjoy observer status.

In the same vein, participants reiterated their readiness, particularly NGOs with Observer Status, to work in collaboration with the African Commission, and of course, the African Union, in the furtherance of human rights, good governance and the rule of law in Africa. It is heartening to observe the seriousness and commitment of participants in the preparations leading to their participation of this Session.  Our passion is to witness much more change in the landscape and we are confident that with the unflinching support of the African Union this will be achieved.

The Forum, welcomes the efforts made by the African Union to provide much of the needed resources for the African Commission in the implementation of its mandate,  Consequently, we would like to take this opportunity to launch an appeal to the international community to continue to support the strengthening of this institution, the foremost human rights mechanism in Africa.

H.E. Madam Chairperson, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Before I conclude, please allow me to update you on some developments around The Forum. Following an evaluation of the NGO Forum in 2006, recommendations as to the way forward were developed.  As a result, a Steering Committee, comprising representatives were elected in Brazzaville (2007) from the 5 regions of Africa as well as from the Diaspora, with the African Centre as Secretariat assuming the Chair.  This Committee also included ex officio representation from African Centre Governing Council and some partners.  I am pleased to announce that this group successfully organised the Forums in Ezulwini, Swaziland; Abuja, Nigeria as well as this one in Banjul, The Gambia.  We look forward to your support and that of our diverse partners as we continue to implement the recommendations in an effort to ameliorate the functioning of the first Forum that encouraged the participation of NGOs in the work of an intergovernmental institution in a spirit of mutual partnership.

Madam Chairperson, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of the participants of the NGO Forum, we wish to thank HE Chairperson, Members, the Secretary and Staff of the African Commission and all their partners for the various initiatives and assistance they had put in place for the successful organisation of this Session.  We congratulate, once again the Bureau, and wish all the Members of the Commission, through Her Excellency, the Chairperson, Commissioner Sanji M. Monageng, a fruitful deliberation and a successful session.

 

Thank You.

HJF

ACDHRS for NGO Forum Steering Committee


Recommendation on Children in Africa

We, participants to the Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 45th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Banjul, The Gambia from 9-11 May, 2009,

Recalling the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa, the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa, the AU Declaration on an Africa fit for Children among many treaties and declarations;

Considering the Resolutions of the African Commission on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Women and Girls Victim of Sexual Violence made during the 42nd Ordinary Session; and on the situation of Women and Children in Africa;

Concerned about the increasing vulnerability of millions of children on the African continent due to poverty and its acute impact on the children, their families and society as a whole and the insufficient political will to protect them;

Noting that to effectively address children’s rights issues on the continent, diverse, wide reaching and strong partnerships are required;

Hereby recommend that the African Commission to

  • Work effectively with the media to circulate information on children, and also circulate information on the work of the various national child networks;
  • Multiply its collaborative efforts with the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child by:

-Establishing a formal relationship with the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC)

-Designating a Focal Point on the Rights of Children in Africa, who would be the main contact point between the two treaty bodies;

-Attending the Committee’s sessions;

  • Address the issue of children’s rights in a cross-cutting manner through its own mechanisms by:

– Carrying out joint missions with ACERWC members in the implementation of      the mandates of Special Rapporteurs, during promotional and investigative missions;

– Sharing information on children’s rights stemming from the consideration of state party reports, with the ACERWC;

– Taking into account progress of State implementation of other child rights/human rights treaties while examining state reports;

– Making children’s rights a cross- cutting theme in the special mechanisms of the Commission;

  • Accord high priority to the Call for Accelerated Action and the Plan of Action on Africa Fit for Children on its agenda and work in collaboration with the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the Department of Social Affairs in implementing these commitments.
  • Permit child rights defenders to visit detention centres and observe trials involving children.

Further call on the African Commission to urge Member States to:

  • stop the use of child soldiers and to ensure that children are protected in conflict situations and never used shields in war.
  • ensure Pro-Child budgets that prioritise issues concerning children.
  • encourage the nine African Governments that have not ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child to do so immediately.
  • establish special mechanism, structures and policies within the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 of Women Peace and Security.
  • implement the STOCHOLM AGENDA on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and the Agreed Conclusions of the World Congress 111, Rio De Janeiro 2008, on Commercial Exploitation of Children (CSEC).
  • give recognition to EU provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by ensuring Children with Disabilities are given special recognition and protection within all thematic areas.
  • Ensure children are at the lowest possible risk of morbidity and mortality, including Mother to Child Transmission of HIV, by providing highest possible level of health and counselling services.
  • Ensure the right of the child to optimal health, nutrition and care including enactment and enforcement of a national code of marketing of breastmilk substitutes, particularly with regard to current global economic crisis and risk of food insecurity.
  • Ensure that Children’s right to health is assured through access to ethical public private interaction (PPI) programmes on food, nutrition, child’s health and development.

 

 

Done in Banjul, May 11th, 2009

Resolution on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Intersex People

Recalling in the 45TH session of the ACHPR, “the inherent dignity of and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family” and that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and that all human rights are universal, interdependent, indivisible, and interrelated;

Affirming that “human beings of all sexual orientation and gender identity are entitled to the full enjoyment of all human rights” as established in the Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity;

Noting Article 2 and 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Declaration on the Rights and Responsibilities of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Declaration on Human Rights Defenders), the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Resolution 69[XXXV]04 on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Africa;

Further noting the failure by states to ensure the enjoyment of the right to the highest attainable standard of health by everyone irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity; which has  impacted   to the scourge of HIV in communities of men who have sex with men (MSM) and women who have sex with women (WSW) despite the proven impact[1] of the pandemic in these communities and the population at large.

Notwithstanding that human rights protection for all women are guaranteed in various international instruments including the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security which deals with the impact of conflict situations on women and girls especially as victims of sexual violence, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Resolution on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Women and Girls Victims of Sexual Violence, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Article 18 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Article 5 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa; states continue to fail in their obligation to protect the rights of lesbian, bisexual and transgender women;

Noting that Article 60 of the African Charter requires the Commission to draw inspiration from the content of other international treaties and laws, and further noting that articles 2(1) and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which all African states are party, establish the principle of non discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, as elaborated by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, and that U.N. treaty bodies and Special Procedures, including the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture and other inhuman, degrading and cruel punishments and treatments, the UN Committee on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, have consistently held that all U.N. treaties include protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity;

Further noting the continuing and increasing human rights violations against individuals and communities on the basis of their sexual orientation and  gender identity, which include arbitrary arrests, detentions, extra-judicial killings and executions, forced disappearances, extortion and blackmail, hate speech, violent attacks, including rape and other sexual assault, physical assaults, torture and murder, as well as the failure of protecting the rights to safety and security of the person, freedom of movement and association, freedom of expression;

And recognizing that LGBTI[2] people are not a homogenous group and that certain identities including race, ethnic and social origin, sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as legal, economic, social and cultural situations disproportionately impact on their experiences and access to the full enjoyment of all rights and freedoms;

The NGO Forum calls for urgent and sustained action by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to ensure the realization of the full range of human rights for all people living on the African continent, in particular people whose sexual orientation and gender identity render them more vulnerable.

And further calls on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to adopt a resolution to:

1. Acknowledge the continuing and increasing incidence of human rights violations, including murder, rape, assault, persecution and imprisonment based on perceived or actual sexual orientation and gender identity on the continent as a problem requiring urgent action;

2. Condemn these acts of human rights violations;

3. Condemn discrimination and exclusion of individuals and communities from the enjoyment of rights and the full realization of their potential because of their sexual orientation and gender identity;

4. Mandate the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women and the Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Expression to lead and coordinate a Special Committee to investigate, document and report on these violations in order to develop appropriate responses and interventions;

5. Create a mechanism to address human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity;

6. Ensure that states put in place mechanisms for access to HIV prevention treatment and care services for everyone regardless of their sexual orientations and gender identity.

7. Strongly urge  states to:

a. Comply with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and other binding international treaties, by repealing laws which criminalize non-heteronormative sexualities and gender identities, such as laws criminalizing sexual conducts between consenting adults of the same sex, laws banning cross-dressing, laws against indecency, impersonation, debauchery, among others.

b. End impunity for acts of violation and abuse, whether committed by state or non-state actors, by enacting appropriate laws, ensuring the proper investigation, arrests and punishment of the perpetrators, and establishing appropriate judicial procedures.

c. Protect the right of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity, to freedom of association and assembly, freedom of expression, and freedom to participate in civil society and key decision-making organs of government.

 

Done in Banjul, May 11th, 2009


[1] Various research has proven that same-sex practicing people are up to 19 times more vulnerable than the general population.

[2] LGBTI in the scope of this resolution stands for and is not restricted to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and  Intersex

Resolution on Strengthening International Justice in Africa

We, the participants of the NGO Forum on the participation of NGOs in the 45th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, held at the Kairaba hotel in Banjul, Gambia on 9-11 May 2009,

Recalling the Resolution on the Ratification of the Treaty on the International Criminal Court by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Banjul (1998), the Declaration and Plan of Action of Grand Bay, Mauritius (1999), the Resolution on the Ratification of the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) by OAU/AU Member States, Pretoria (2002) and the Resolution on ending impunity in Africa and on the domestication and implementation of the Rome Statute of the ICC of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (2005);

Further Recalling the adoption in 2005 of World Summit document where member states of the United Nations expressed their commitment to the protection of civilians from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing;

Noting with concern the numerous human rights abuses in parts of the African continent, most notably that  women and children have suffered the heaviest brunt of acts of  genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and other crimes recognized under international human rights and international humanitarian law,

Recalling that the establishment of the ICC represents an important development in the struggle against impunity for the most serious crimes as crimes of war, crimes against humanity and genocide, and that there is no peace without justice,

Noting that by attempting to punish those responsible for these crimes, the ICC is a crucial court of last resort in defending African victims and attempting to prevent the future occurrence of such atrocities,

Committed to the development of national capacity to address international crimes, and noting that under the complimentarity principle, the ICC has jurisdiction only when national states are unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute international crimes,

Recalling further that three African states (Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic) voluntarily refereed situations on their territories to the ICC and that the UN Security Council referred Darfur to the ICC, given the gravity of crimes there,

Noting that only 30 African states have ratified the Rome statute,

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

Urge the member states of the African Union that have not yet done so to ratify the Rome Statute and to ensure its effective implementation at the national level,

Urge the member states of the African Union (AU) to support victims by promoting judicial and other efforts to end impunity as well as promoting accountability for serious crimes under international law including through strengthening support and collaboration with the ICC,

Encourage the AU to include members of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in any discussions relating to impunity, including the ICC, in light of its role in the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa,

Encourage the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU to urge its member states, including those under investigation by the ICC, to fully cooperate with the Court in its efforts to bring to justice suspected perpetrators of international crimes,

Call on AU member states to demonstrate their commitment to protection of civilians by taking steps to institutionalize the Responsibility to Protect,

Ensure that the worst crimes under international law are adopted as crimes under national law and investigated and that those responsible are brought to justice in their domestic  courts in accordance with internationally recognized fair trial standards,

Appoint a Special Rapporteur on fighting Impunity in Africa, to carry out activities aimed at ensuring that those responsible for the worst crimes under international law are brought to justice; and strengthening international rule of law.

 

Done in Banjul, May 11th, 2009

Resolution on the situation in Kenya

We participants at the Forum on the participation of NGOs at the 45th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in The Gambia, resolve as follows:

Considering the provisions of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, , as well as those of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other regional and international human rights instruments to which Kenya is a state party;

Highlighting that as a signatory to the African Charter, the Geneva Conventions and various human rights treaties and as a member State of the International Criminal Court, Kenya has a duty to respect the right to life and an obligation to bring to justice perpetrators of serious international crimes;

Further considering Kenya’s obligations under the 1998 Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders);

Welcoming the findings of the Commission of Inquiry on Post-Election Violence (Waki Commission);

Deploring the failure of the Kenyan coalition government of national unity to establish a constitutionally entrenched Special Tribunal as recommended by the Waki Commission;

Condemning the widespread problem of extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances in Kenya;

Deploring the deeply entrenched culture of impunity, and the lack of an independent and impartial legal framework  to ensure prompt and independent investigations into violations of the right to life and acts of torture and other inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment , notably at the hands of Kenyan security services and law enforcement personnel;

Highlighting the failure of the Witness Protection Act to offer significant and necessary protection to witnesses in Kenya;

Concerned by the current harassment and attacks on Human Rights Defenders, primarily those involved in investigations into extrajudicial killings, notably the killing of Mr. King’ara and Mr. Oulu of the Oscar Foundation Free Legal Clinic, on 5th march 2009;

The NGO Forum calls upon the ACHPR to take all necessary measures to pass a resolution:

To call on the Kenya authorities to publicly condemn the continued practice of arbitrary executions and to take all the necessary measures to ensure that those responsible are held to account notably allowing for an independent criminal investigation into the killings and to carry out sweeping police reforms, including the establishment of a civilian police oversight body as called for in the preliminary fact-finding recommendations by the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings;

To call on the Kenyan government to immediately establish a constitutionally entrenched Special Tribunal as recommended by the Waki Commission, after a broad consultation, with amongst others members of the Kenyan civil society and legal community;

To call on the Kenyan government to establish an independent witness protection mechanism that is not dependent on the Kenyan security forces or the Attorney General;

To encourage the Kenyan government to put an immediate end to the harassment of human rights defenders in Kenya;

To call on the Kenyan authorities to observe the provisions of the 1998 UN Declaration on human rights defenders, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and other human rights treaties to which Kenya is signatory;

To encourage the Kenyan government to call for a prompt impartial and independent criminal investigation into the killings of Mr. King’ara and Mr. Oulu and to ensure that those responsible for the killings, once identified, are held to account;

To call for and support an international criminal investigation into the allegations of human rights violations committed notably against HRDs during the post-election violence and in the course of the military actions in the Mount Elgon region;

To call on the government to invite without delay the Special Rapporteur of the ACHPR on Human Rights Defenders;

To call on all AU member states to exert pressure on the Kenyan government to ensure a full and prompt implementation of the Waki Commission recommendations amongst other recent investigations;

To encourage all AU member states to use their influence on the Kenyan authorities to bring an end to the culture of impunity and to offer support- political/ logistical – to ensure the establishment of independent and impartial accountability mechanisms;

To encourage the African Union to call on the Kenyan authorities to offer an open invitation to Special Rapporteur of the ACHPR on Human Rights Defenders.

 

Done in Banjul, May 11th, 2009

Resolution on African Countries in Crisis and Elections in Africa

We, the participants of the NGO Forum preceding the 45th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the 19th African Human Rights Book Fair, held at the Karaiba Beach Hotel, the Gambia, from 9 – 11 May 2009,

Noting that majority of African Countries are in democratic rule and some of them have conducted fair and credible elections especially Ghana and just recently South Africa,

Encouraged by the objectives and principles enshrined in the Constitutive Act of the African Union,

Recalling the provisions of article 2(3) of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Good Governance which seeks to promote the holding of regular free and fair elections to institutionalise legitimate authority of representative government as well as democratic change of government,

Further Re-affirming the desire of the Charter to promote best practices in the management of elections for purposes of political stability and good governance,

Deeply concerned at the desperation of politicians and political leaders in influencing the outcome of elections thereby undermining the capacity of the people to choose and form the government of their own choice particularly the recently concluded by-elections in Ekiti State of Nigeria.

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

Re-affirm article 3(4) of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Good Governance which stipulates the holding of regular, transparent, free and fair elections,

Implore member states of the AU, and the various sub-regional bodies to discourage the hijacking of elections in Africa,

Urge member states of the AU to take steps in the implementation of the affirmative action policy agreed to under the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ on the Rights of Women and the Beijing platform for Action,

Call on the AU member states to take urgent measures to reform their electoral laws and processes to eliminate discrimination and election irregularities including the protection of both Domestic and International Election Observers; and provide for the condemnation of electoral malpractices, rigging, votes manipulation and corruption by politicians,

Call on the African Heads of State to entrench true democracy in their respective states by creating conducive environment for the participation of all citizens and close the gap to gender inequality and unequal representation in government.

 

Done in Banjul, May 11th, 2009