TRES/008/10/2013 – Women’s Land and Property Rights in Africa

We, the participants of the NGO Forum preceding the 54th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the 28th African Human Rights Book Fair held from 18th – 20th October, 2013 in Banjul, The Gambia

Guided by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa,

Inspired by the African Women’s Decade (AWD) (2010-2020), as launched by the African Union, with the aim to advance gender equality through the acceleration of the implementation of global and regional decisions and commitments on gender equality and women’s empowerment, and which is operating under the theme “Grassroots Approach to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment,”

Commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa, and recalling in particular Arts. 7, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20 and 21 which, inter alia, require States parties to: promote women’s access to and control over productive resources such as land; grant women, regardless of their marital status, access to adequate housing; guarantee women’s right to property; provide women with access to clean drinking water, sources of domestic fuel, land, and the means of producing nutritious food, ensure that in case of separation, divorce or annulment of marriage, women and men have the right to an equitable sharing of the joint property deriving from the marriage; ensure widows have a right to an equitable share in the inheritance of the property of her husband, and ensure that women and men, and boys and girls, have the right to inherit, in equitable shares, from their parents’ estate,        

Reaffirming  the Framework and Guidelines for Land Policy in Africa, adopted by the African Union in 2009, and in particular its provisions related to strengthening the land rights of women, and recognizing the work of the Land Policy Initiative to achieve this aim, 

Recalling international human rights law and in particular the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,

Reaffirming commitments made by African governments to support women’s equal access to productive resources, under the Beijing Platform for Action and the Millennium Development Goals,

Recalling additional international standards related to women’s land and property rights, including Resolution 2005/25 of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on ‘Women’s equal ownership, access to and control over land and the equal rights to own property and to adequate housing,’ Resolution 2004/28 of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on ‘Prohibition of Forced Evictions,’ Resolution 20/7 of the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) on ‘Gender equality in human settlements development,’ and Resolution 42/1 of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women on ‘Human rights and land rights discrimination,’

Understanding that ‘women’s rights to land’ entail the ability of women to own, directly benefit from, use, access, control, transfer, inherit and otherwise take decisions about land and related resources, and to enjoy security of tenure as defined under international human rights law,

Reaffirming that women’s access to, use of, and control over land is essential to ensuring gender equality and forms an essential basis of women’s social, political and economic empowerment, and that land and property rights have major implications for the achievement and enjoyment of women’s human rights such as the right to equality, food, health, housing, water, sanitation, work and education,

Affirming that women’s contributions to effective use of land are enormous on the Continent – women produce the majority of food grown in Africa and have developed strategies to ensure both community development and sustainability of farming practices,

Deeply Concerned that despite these enormous contributions, women in Africa, particularly women living in extreme poverty, women affected by HIV and AIDS, and victims of domestic violence, continue to suffer multiple or aggravated forms of discrimination, and that all of these situations are aggravated when women are denied their land and property rights,

Deeply concerned also  that throughout Africa, gender inequality when it comes to land and other productive resources too often lies at the heart of women’s poverty and exclusion and that land grabbing, climate change, forced relocation and forced eviction have a disproportionately severe impact on women,

Calls upon the African Commission to urge African governments to:

  • ratify the African Charter and the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa;
  • comply fully with their international and regional obligations and commitments related to protecting, promoting and ensuring women’s land and property rights, including by ensuring that they provide a consistent legal and regulatory frameworks that enshrine women’s land and property rights, including, inter alia, through national civil codes, personal status, family and marriage law, property law, as well as housing and/or land law.  Such provisions should (a) include specific recognition of women’s joint ownership of marital property and right to possession of the marital home and property upon the death of a spouse; (b) recognize women’s indirect contributions to the acquisition of marital property as bearers of the care responsibilities; (c) provide for equal inheritance rights for girls and boys; (d) criminalize property grabbing from widows and surviving children; and (e) prohibit cultural practices that do not enable women to enjoy their independent land and property rights in practice including forced widow inheritance;
  • transform through review, amendment and/or repeal all laws and regulations, customs and practices  — including statutory, religious and customary — which discriminate against women or which in any way limit or negatively affect their access to, use of, and control of land and other productive resources;
  • support the transformation of customs and traditions that discriminate against women and deny women security of tenure and equal ownership of, access to, use of, and control over land and equal rights to own property and to adequate housing, including through popular education campaigns;
  • provide women legal protection against forced eviction, as well as land and property grabbing at the hands of both public and private actors;
  • ensure that the widows have continued occupancy and use rights with respect to the marital home as well as to moveable and immovable property, including land, without pre-condition;
  • provide access to justice and ensure effective remedies for violations of women’s land and property rights, including restitution and compensation, and provide/fund legal services for women seeking judicial redress;
  • support the efforts of grassroots women to develop community driven initiatives to provide effective access to justice to women who face discrimination in their access and control over land, including through alternative dispute resolution, use of customary legal structures, paralegal support, watchdog groups, and other initiatives;
  • support customary legal structures to ensure human rights protection and greater access to justice by communities;
  • conduct sensitization programs and provide judges, lawyers, political and other public officials, community and religious leaders and other concerned persons with information and human rights education concerning women’s equal access to and control over land, property and adequate housing and encourage them to raise awareness amongst their constituencies and within their communities on these issues;
  • ensure the right of women to equal treatment in land and agrarian reform as well as in land resettlement schemes and in ownership of property and in adequate housing and to take other measures to increase land access for women living in poverty, particularly households headed by single women;
  • encourage financial lending institutions to ensure that their policies and practices do not discriminate against women, and enable women to have access to financial and credit schemes on the basis of the principle of gender equality;
  • integrate women’s land and property rights into national HIV/AIDS strategies,  as well as agricultural and land policies, specifically allocating resources to programs that support investment in women smallholder farmers increase women’s access to land, property and inheritance.

Invites African Governments to promote at all levels, including at the highest level, the full realization of women’s rights to land and property in national, regional and international initiatives.

Done in Banjul, The Gambia on 20th October, 2013

TREC/007/10/2013 – Policing and Human Rights

We, the participants of the NGO Forum preceding the 54th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the 28th African Human Rights Book Fair held from 18th – 20th October, 2013 in Banjul, The Gambia,

Commend the Commission for its increasingly active role in promoting the issue of police and human rights in Africa;

Appreciate that the Commisison during its promotion mission to Uganda in August 2013 discussed policing and human rights issues affecting the Ugandan police;

Encouraged by the Commission’s efforts to promote the police and human rights issue through its 3rdnewsletter on Police and Human Rights in Africa on the integration of police and human rights in its promotion and protection mandate, noting that  several Commissioners have contributed to all the three newsletters that it has issued to this date;

Remain concerned about the ongoing human rights violations by police across the continent including reports of extra judicial killings in Kenya and Nigeria, infringement on the right to assemble in South Africa, Uganda, Angola, Swaziland and other countries;

Remain further concerned about policing practices that either discriminate against, or fail to protect, certain minority communities, and the failure by police organisations and the state to combat impunity for these, and other, human rights abuses;

Recognise the need for the Commission to continue the prioritization of police and human rights in Africa in order to promote a human rights culture within the police resulting in a professional and human rights compliant police;

Recognise that key areas in order to promote a human rights culture among the police are:  recruitment procedures, human rights training, codes of conducts, internal and external accountability mechanisms for human rights violations, permanent dialogue with civil society as well as police reform more generally;

Therefore call on the African Commission to continue and deepen its role and actively explore the establishment of a special mechanism on police and human rights that can support the issues just mentioned.

Done in Banjul, The Gambia on 20th October, 2013

TREC/006/10/2013 – Follow-Up of Resolutions and Decisions by the African Commission

We, the participants of the NGO Forum preceding the 54th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the 28th African Human Rights Book Fair held from 18th – 20th October, 2013 in Banjul, The Gambia, hereby calls upon the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights to:

  • Create a road map on the follow up of the communications and recommendations to state parties;
  • Conduct a constructive dialogue between the Commission and different departments of governments, including a role for civil society;
  • Develop strategies for implementation, such as coalitions like that for the African Court, and networks that provide legal assistance to individuals for follow-up as well as for bringing communications;
  • Request states to establish an access point within their governments so that the Commission has a way to communicate to one institution and monitor the implementation through this particular department;
  • Hold hearings on implementation in cases where there is no progress

Done in Banjul, The Gambia on 20th October, 2013

 

 

 

TREC/004/10/2013 – Prisons and Conditions of Detention and Prevention and Prohibition of Torture and other Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Africa

We, the participants of the NGO Forum preceding the 54th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the 28th African Human Rights Book Fair held from 18th – 20th October, 2013 in Banjul, The Gambia

 Hereby call on the African Commission to:

  • Provide clear guidance to states on the contents of member states’ reports in respect of measures taken to implement prison and the prevention and eradication of torture and other ill treatment;
  • Call upon adoption of the Draft Guidelines on Police Custody and Pre-Trial Detention when they are presented to the Commission in 2014. We commend the Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Conditions of Detention for facilitating regional consultations in the drafting of the Guidelines;
  • Encourage the provision of the ACHPR’s in-puts on the Draft General Comment 1 of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child on the imprisonment of infants with their mothers;
  • Push Member States to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and to also urge states to develop where lacking and utilize existing independent visiting mechanisms for places of detention;
  • Encourage Member States to include human rights training, including in particular training on the prevention and eradication of torture and other ill treatment, in the curriculum of state security agencies and law enforcement officials.
  • Advocate for Member States to provide training to investigating authorities on the Istanbul Protocol to ensure the prompt, effective and impartial investigation of torture and ill-treatment;
  • Insist that member states comply with their obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as articulated in the Robben Island Guidelines and UN General Comment No. 3 on Article 14 by providing victims of torture and other ill treatment with prompt and effective redress.

Done in Banjul, The Gambia on 20th October, 2013

 

 

TREC/003/10/2013 – Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa

We, the participants of the NGO Forum preceding the 54th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the 28th African Human Rights Book Fair held from 18th – 20th October, 2013 in Banjul, The Gambia

Recalling Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which guarantees the right to freedom of expression;

Recognising that freedom of expression is an essential attribute of human existence in all spheres of life and that the general operating environment across the continent does not adequately promote freedom of expression and access to information for human rights defenders and the media and noting that freedom of expression is a potent and indispensable instrument for the creation and maintenance of a democratic society and the consolidation of development;

Expressing grave concern on the continued arrests and persecution of journalists and human rights defenders and restrictions on the right to information and freedom of expression in the African region;

Recalling the recommendations of the previous sessions of the ACHPR,

Calls for the following action: 

  • The ACHPR should push African Governments to enact freedom of expression and access to information laws and where such laws exist, to respect them, and for governments to report more regularly on the state of implementation of freedom of expression and access to information laws;
  • African governments should strengthen anti-discrimination laws to promote equality, as well as realignment of laws with new constitutions to improve the freedom of expression environment;

NGOs should:

  • Ensure more scrutiny of bills by civil society organizations at the national level before they are passed into law to guard against anti-freedom of expression laws. More civil society and media collaboration in scrutinizing draft convention on cyber security and crime;
  • Conduct more advocacy to raise awareness and train journalists to help champion human rights issues through informed reporting;
  • Enhance solidarity within the NGO community for human rights defenders to work closely with credible national human rights commissions/organizations especially engagement with regulatory bodies to improve media and freedom of expression laws;
  • Emphasize building of trust between the media, community, and other human rights defenders including regional networks or coalitions and broad-based approaches to enhance freedom of expression.

Done in Banjul, The Gambia on 20th October, 2013

 

 

TREC/002/10/2013 – Extractive Industries, The Environment and Human Rights Violations

We, the participants of the NGO Forum preceding the 54th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the 28th African Human Rights Book Fair held from 18th – 20th October, 2013 in Banjul, The Gambia, hereby call on the African Commission to:

  • Recall that African states hold the primary responsibility for the regulation and control of international companies operating in their countries;
  • Recognize that in a global perspective, the home countries of international companies must also accept responsibility for regulating business to ensure the protection of human rights internationally;
  • Emphasize that all governments must safeguard the rights of citizens and civil society to independently research and monitor extractive industries, in particular ensuring the protection of human rights defenders from threats, violence, and reprisals;
  • Encourage all efforts to advance respect for the UN Guidelines on Business and Human Rights within the African context;
  • Emphasize the essential role and function for citizens and civil society to monitor extractive industries, hold their governments accountable, and report on these issues to the African Commission;
  • Highlight that communities must have full and open access to information on extractive industries and their impacts on human rights, communities and environments;
  • Encourage the continuing review and mapping of regional and international law on the extractive industries, including the examination of best practices in the ECOWAS model treaty on extractive industries as well as other sub-regions;
  • Encourage the development African guidelines or a model law on extractive industries and human rights;
  • Call for the development of national laws on extractive industries and the effective implementation of these regulations;
  • Recall that extractive industries as a sector are key to realizing the right to development, based on fair and equitable terms for mineral concessions;
  • Recall the African Commission’s resolution on illicit capital flight;
  • Remind all governments to submit their country reports with the inclusion of a specific section addressing business and human rights;
  • Encourage the African Commission to develop a strong working relationship and communication with the UN Working Group on Business and Human Right; particularly by the participation of the African Commission in the annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights; and
  • Encourage the African Commission to consider new mechanisms for examining the human rights practices of commercial companies.

Done in Banjul, The Gambia on 20th October, 2013

 

 

TRES/007/10/2013 – Rights of Women in Africa

We, the participants of the NGO Forum preceding the 54th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the 28th African Human Rights Book Fair held from 18th – 20th October, 2013 in Banjul, The Gambia

Commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa;

Recalling international human rights law and in particular the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women;

 Reaffirming commitments made by African governments to support women’s equal access to productive resources, under the Beijing Platform for Action and the Millennium Development Goals;

Calls on the African Commission to:

  • Recognizing the 10th anniversary of the Protocol, call for countries to ratify the Protocol in 2013/2014.
  • Call for the use regional economic communities for example ECOWAS, EAC to use the African Union Maputo Protocol (Protocol) as a framework in drafting policies; making and implementing its decisions to ensure that women’s rights are respected at all levels and hold governments accountable for lack of implementation. For example, when ECOWAS is creating policies on Agriculture within the region, it should involve women and resource women in agriculture;
  • Encourage popularization of the Protocol at 3 levels: regional level among Member States to remind them of their commitments; among national organizations to advocate for its ratification, domestication and implementation; and among communities levelto create support and demand from the public;
  • Advocate for domestication and implementation at the national level. The Protocol should be the basis for laws and policies on women’s rights and also for State and Non-State actors to utilize to advance the rights of women in country. Civil society should work with the ACHPR to push for general comments as a strategy to provide guidelines for States on the implementation of the various articles of the Protocol;
  • Encourage organizations with the capacity for legal representation should use the law and the courts to women’s rights by giving free legal services; public interest litigation and expansive interpretation of the rights of women as part of indivisibility of human rights and push for progressive jurisprudence on women’s rights;
  • Promote the need for a multi-sectoral approach by governments to ensure the Protocol is implemented at all levels of government. CSOs in partnership with the Special Rapporteur on women’s rights need to sensitize Member States on areas of the Protocol that are misunderstood and thus serve as a barrier to ratification, popularization and domestication. These include provisions on marriage, land, inheritance, sexual and reproductive health and the right to safe abortion;
  • Encourage circulation of decisions made at the regional level widely in States including in the communities so that ordinary women are aware of them and start demanding for their rights;
  • Ensure the AU and the ACHPR stress the need for States to report on the Protocol as they report on the Charter. The ACHPR should continue disseminating the State reporting guidelines so that Countries comply with their treaty obligations to indicate what progress they’ve made to domesticate and implement the Protocol;
  • Encourage disaggregated data for all targets and indicators according to girls and women with disabilities, as well as age, in order to ensure that girls and women with disabilities are being included in efforts to achieve goals and targets under the work done under the ACHPR and the NGO forum;
  • Ensure the constant involvement of local or rural women and empowering women to sustain themselves and not always rely on funding to attend meetings or workshops;
  • Encourage use regional mechanisms such as the commission to question decisions at the national level that roll back gains provided in the Protocol, for example in Kenya the advisory opinion that affirmative action measures to promote women political participation should be realized progressively;
  • Implement and enforce advocacy for the transformation of customary and traditional religious practices that negatively affect women’s rights to land and property;
  • Ensure governments have budgetary allocations in accordance with Article 4 of the Protocol to enable fast-tracking the realization of economic, cultural and social rights in Member States.

Done in Banjul, The Gambia on 20th October, 2013

TRES/006/10/2013 – Resolution on the Creation of Effective National Mechanisms to Prevent Torture

We, the participants of the NGO Forum preceding the 54th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the 28th African Human Rights Book Fair held from 18th – 20th October, 2013 in Banjul, The Gambia

Guided by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and in particular Article 45 of the Charter, which defines the mandate of the Commission;

Considering  the rights established and guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples covering all categories of persons, including prisoners, detainees and other persons deprived of their freedom;

Considering further progress in the dialogue between the Special Procedures of the United Nations and those of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, under the auspices of the African Commission;

Bearing in mind the Resolution on Prisons in Africa adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights at its 17th Ordinary Session held from 13 to 22 March 1995 in Lomé, Togo;

Concerned by the fact that only 12 states are parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment protocol, and that only five have designated national preventive mechanisms, which remain very fragile;

Bearing in mind, in this fiftieth anniversary of the OAU / AU, the long quest for dignity embodied by the Pan-African movement;

  • Calls upon the African Commission to adopt a resolution which:
  • Urges state parties to the African Charter which have not yet ratified the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel , Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment, and the Optional Protocol thereof, to do so;
  • Urges state parties to the OPCAT to be involved alongside the Sub- Committee for the Prevention of Torture, in collaboration with its partners, particularly the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF ) and the Association for the Prevention of torture ( APT), for the implementation of the OPCAT as a complementary tool of regional efforts;
  • Calls upon states to urgently implement a participatory, integrated and operational strategy for the prevention of torture based on national guarantees and regional and international standards.

 

Done in Banjul, The Gambia on 20th October, 2013 

TRES/005/10/2013 – Violence and Human Rights Violations Against Persons on the Basis of their real or perceived Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

We, the participants of the NGO Forum preceding the 54th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the 28th African Human Rights Book Fair held from 18th – 20th October, 2013 in Banjul, The Gambia

Recalling that Article 4(o) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union recognizes respect for the sanctity of human life, and the condemnation and rejection of impunity guiding principles of the African Union;

Recalling also that Articles 3 and 28 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights recognize the equality of individuals under the law and the right of every individual to equal protection of the law, and the duty of every individual to respect and consider their fellow human beings without discrimination, and to maintain relations aimed at promoting, safeguarding and reinforcing mutual respect and tolerance respectively;

Recalling further that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter affirm the inherent dignity of all human beings that everyone is entitled to the enjoyment of rights and freedoms without distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status;

Noting that Article 29(7) of the African Charter requires every individual to preserve and strengthen positive African cultural values in his relations with other members of society in the spirit of tolerance, dialogue and consultation;

Noting also that Article 45 of the African Charter, which mandates the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, protects human and peoples’ rights in Africa;

Noting further that Article 60 of the African Charter requires the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights 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, as well Article 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), establish the principle of non discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, as elaborated respectively by the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and that UN treaty bodies and Special Procedures, including the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the UN 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 the International Bill of Rights includes protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity;

Expressing grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination committed against individuals on the basis of their imputed or real sexual orientation and gender identity,which include, violent attacks such as rape and other sexual assault, physical assaults, torture, murder, arbitrary arrests, detentions, extra-judicial killings and executions, forced disappearances, extortion and blackmail;

Further alarmed at the incidence of violence and human rights violations and abuses by State and non-state actors targeting human rights defenders and civil society organisations working on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity in Africa;

Deeply disturbed by the unwillingness of law enforcement agencies to diligently investigate and prosecute perpetrators of violence and other human rights violations targeting persons on the basis of their imputed or real sexual orientation and gender identity;

 Hereby calls on the African Commission to:

  • Condemn the increasing incidence of violence and other human rights violations, including murder, rape, assault, arbitrary imprisonment and other forms of persecution of persons on the basis of their imputed or real sexual orientation and gender identity in Africa;
  • Condemn the exclusion of individuals and communities from the enjoyment of rights and the full realization of their potential because of their real or imputed sexual orientation and gender identity;
  • Specifically condemn the situation of systematic attacks by state and non-state actors against persons on the basis of their imputed or real sexual orientation and gender identity;
  • Strongly urge States to end impunity for acts of violation and abuse, whether committed by state or non-state actors, by enacting appropriate laws prohibiting and punishing all forms of violence including those targeting persons on the basis of their imputed or real sexual orientation and gender identities, by ensuring proper investigation and diligent prosecution of the perpetrators, and by establishing judicial procedures responsive to the needs of victims.

Done on 20th October, 2013 in Banjul, The Gambia