We the participants of the Forum of NGOs participating at the 37th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ rights and the 11th African human rights book fair held at the Corinthia Atlantic Hotel, Banjul, Gambia from April 24 to 26, 2005,
Considering the provisions of the Constitutive Act of the African Union (AU), the Charter of the United Nations Organisation as well as those of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, the Protocol Establishing the AU Peace and Security Council, and other regional and international human rights instruments and humanitarian law;
Recalling Communiqué PSC/AHG/Comm. (XXIII adopted by the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC), meeting at its 23rd meeting, at the level of Heads of State and Government, on 10 January 2005, in Libreville, Gabon;
Recalling also the Resolution on the Promotion and Respect of International Humanitarian Law and Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights at its 14th Ordinary Session, December, 1993 in which the Commission invited all African States Parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to adopt appropriate measures at the national level to ensure the promotion of the provisions of international humanitarian law and human and peoples’ rights;
Stressing that maintaining peace and preserving territorial integrity is the prime responsibility of the State and that there is a need for specific instruction of military personnel and the training of the forces of law and order in international humanitarian law and human and peoples’ rights respectively;
Deeply concerned by the growing trend among some States to permit indisciplined militia groups to fight proxy wars on their behalf and that such groups commit heinous crimes abhorrent to all cannons of civilized life targeting defenceless civilian populations in particular women and children;
We call on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to:
1. Condemn in the strongest possible terms the violence and destruction of life and livelihood committed by armed militia groups against civilian populations and the increasing trend among some African States to use militia groups to fight proxy wars on their behalf.
2. Pronounce itself on this dangerous phenomenon and advise African Heads of State and Government on the importance of taking the necessary steps including the adoption of a binding instrument to incriminate this practice and halt the impunity with which these groups commit crimes.
3. Initiate a study on the negative impact of armed militia groups on the safety and security of person in Africa, as well as the dangers they pose to national and regional peace and stability.
Done at Banjul, 26th April, 2005