We, the Forum on the participation of NGOs gathered in Brazzaville (Congo), on the occasion of the 42nd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights,
Considering that Sub-Saharan African countries are experiencing population movements by a number of different categories people: workers, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). About one third of the estimated 200 million migrants worldwide in 2006 were originally from Africa. Moreover, Africa alone is responsible for a third of all refugees and about half the IDP in the world,
Insisting on the fact that in Sub-Saharan Africa, almost one in two migrants (47%) is a woman, and that women and children make up 70% of the refugees and IDPs on the continent,
Considering the scope of the violations of the rights guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights surrounding the question of migration, namely violation of the right to life, the right to free movement of the person, the obligation to protect civilians, discriminations, etc,
Recalling the appointment in 2003 by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights of a Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons,
Recalling the experts’ meeting organised by the African Union (AU) on migration and development in April 2006 in Algiers; and recalling the decision of the AU Executive Council held in January 2007 calling for the organisation of a Special Summit on Refugees, Repatriated and Internally Displaced Persons in 2008,
Recommend to State Parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights that they:
1. recognize the importance of the human rights of all migrants, including refugees and IDPs, and to ensure that national legislation relating to migration issues is consistent with and does not conflict with international human rights standards and conventions,
2. ratify and implement the main international instruments relating to migrants and refugees, such as the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families and the African Union Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa;
3. ratify and apply the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women as well as the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and its Additional Protocol allowing individual complaints or communications, in order to respect the rights of migrant women;
4. respect the principle of customary international law of non-refoulement, to make legal requirements for entering a territory more flexible in order to take into account the needs for asylum seekers; to revoke the notion of “safe third country”; to strengthen institutional structures for addressing and managing individual asylum requests; to respect the right of asylum seekers to contest rulings on asylum status; and to improve the reception structures and processes of refugees seeking asylum,
5. domesticate the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement into national law and subsequently respect them.
Recommend to the AU bodies that they:
1. adopt legally binding instruments for the protection of the rights of migrants, notably a Convention for the Prevention of Internal Displacement and the Protection of and Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, based on the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement,
2. take into account the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights and to consult with and take into account the concerns of civil society in the elaboration process and the final development of these norms.
Recommend to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights that they:
1. provide the Special Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights with the resources and political support to fulfil his mandate, notably by receiving information, conducting research and gathering information, negotiating with States, and advocate for the implementation of the relevant UN and AU conventions, and by submitting reports and recommendations to the Commission;
2. ensure that the issue of migrations and human rights becomes a permanent question raised by the Commission l when examining periodic reports presented by States parties.
Done in Brazzaville, November 12th, 2007