OPENING CEREMONY OF 73rd ORDINARY SESSION
AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS, AT
SIR DAWDA KAIRABA JAWARA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE
ON 21st OCTOBER, 2022
Your Excellencies, Good morning
Your Excellency, Badara Alieu Joof, Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia
Professor Ismaila Madior Fall, Keeper of the Seals, Hon. Minister of Justice of the Republic of
Your Excellency, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Monique
Honourable Attorney General and Minister of Justice represented by Mr. Hussein Thomasi
My Lord, Chief Justice of The Republic, Hon. Hassan B. Jallow;
Honourable Members of the National Assembly;
Honourable Ministers of the African Union States;
Honourable Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and Members of the African Commission on Human
and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)
Hon. Catherine Dupe Atoki, former Chair and Commissioner of ACHPR
Hon. Judges of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights
Hon. Chairperson and Members of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare
of the Child
Your Excellency, Ambassador Salah Hammad, Head of AGA, Department for Political Affairs,
Peace and Security of the African Union Commission;
Deputy Regional Representative of the UNOHCHR, East Africa Regional Office, Maymucha
Lauriston, representing the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Members of the United Nations Family present – UN OHCHR, UNOCI and UNOWAS;
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps;
The Chairperson and Executive Governing Council Members of the African Centre for
Democracy and Human Rights Studies (GC/ACDHRS);
Distinguished State Representatives;
Venerable Religious and Traditional Leaders;
The Chairperson and Representatives of National Human Rights Institutions;
Representatives of National and International NGOs;
Representatives of the Press;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;
All protocols respectfully observed
Thirty-five years is indeed a significant milestone! A historic time indeed! Whether it is in the
life of any human being or any institution. It therefore offers an opportunity to contemplate over
those remarkable moments that have brought success as well as those other moments we might
have been challenged, changed our course and or even be given another chance to journey on.
In addition, 2022 is a year of milestones – 20 years of the African Union; 20 years of the World
Day Against the Death Penalty; 10 years of the Addis Ababa Roadmap ; 10 years of the African
Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and 10 years of the Kampala Convention.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Time is indeed ripe for ACHPR to
pause, to reflect and to get more prepared to take a more sombre posture towards the encounters
of the future, having been armed with the wisdom and experience of the past.
Having been part of this remarkable journey, it is, therefore, my pleasure coupled with a great
sense of humility that I stand before this august gathering of the African human rights
community, on this auspicious occasion of the 35th Anniversary of the African Commission on
Human and Peoples’ Rights (hitherto referred to as ACHPR or The African Commission), as
Spokesperson, charged with the responsibility to give a statement on behalf of all my colleagues
of the Forum of NGOs in the Work of the 73rd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on
Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Before I proceed, permit me to request that we observe a moment’s silence for those Founding
Fathers and Mothers of the Charter, those Commissioners who have passed on; giants on whose
shoulders the present generation of Commissioners continue to stand as we promote and protect
human rights in Africa. We remember particularly the first Chairperson, Mr. Isaac NGuema, of
blessed memory, under whose leadership the African Commission started its first foot forward.
Allow me, at the onset, to extend our congratulations to the Hon. Chairperson, the Vice
Chairperson and all Distinguished Members of the continent’s premier human rights institution
as they celebrate and contemplate on the building blocks so far and future direction for the
promotion and protection of human rights in Africa. In the same vein, we would like to
recognise the dedicated and distinguished service of all past and present Commissioners. In the
same vein, it would be in order to also observe a moments silence for all victims of human rights
violations and conflict, especially for all the 70 victims of the latest protests in Chad.
On behalf of the Governing Council of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights
Studies (ACDHRS); The NGO Forum Steering Committee; all the participants of the NGO
Forum, and indeed on my behalf, I wish to thank the Chairperson and Members of the African
Commission for affording us this opportunity to accompany them in this walk along memory
lane in a bid to realign your priorities and chart your forward direction.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
The Forum wishes to also express its gratitude to the Government and people of The Republic
of The Gambia, the smiling coast of Africa, for hosting the 73rd Ordinary Session and to reiterate
the appreciation of the participants of the Forum of NGOs for the continued support extended to
the African Commission.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 73rd Session of the African Commission on
Human and Peoples’ Rights, was held from the 17-18 October, 2022, just before this Session of
the African Commission of significant importance. Over 260 participants from 40 African
countries, 5 from Europe and 2 from North America were in attendance. Meanwhile, the Forum
adopted 8 country resolutions – DRC, Egypt, Eritrea, Eswatini, Mali, South Sudan, Tanzania ; 5
Thematic resolutions on the Civic Space; Digital Rights; Death Penalty; Digital Rights; Fight
against Impunity; and Military transitions in Africa ; and 4 Thematic Recommendations – on the
Addis Ababa Roadmap; the AfCFTA; Engagement of People of African Descent and in the
Diaspora; and Internet Shutdowns in Africa.
In keeping with the celebration of thirty years of the African Commission this year, the Forum
adopted the theme ‘Celebrating 35 years of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’
Rights with the current situations of conflicts, shrinking civic space, covid 19 amidst violence
against women especially in environmentally unfriendly milieu.
The Forum noted that while Africa has seen significant and positive developments in the human
rights and democracy situation on the continent, it is worthy to observe an improvement in the
respect for human rights, good governance and the rule of law. The African Commission, in its
role to promote, protect and interpret the African Charter has indeed laid an enviable foundation
for the development of various instruments, with the African Commission making impressive
decisions and mechanisms to match the growing tide. This noble body has been breathing life
into the Charter by adopting rules of procedure, streaming its operations and clarified various
provisions of the Charter to States Parties and other stakeholders; developed guidelines setting
minimum standards for compliance with the Charter; established mechanisms which have
contributed to the building of jurisprudence as well as to the provision of information to the
Commission; made laudable contributions to international human rights law in its
communications; examined the states reports of over 40 states parties; granted affiliate status to
30 National Human rights Institutions and observer status to over 500 Non-Governmental
Institutions; among other developments. Moreover, we are all here today, witnesses at this
momentous session of the African Commission and would like to take this opportunity to salute,
most especially, all past and present Commissioners. We congratulate the current Chairperson,
Hon. Remy Ngoy Lumbu, the Vice Chairperson, Hon. Maya Sahil Fadel and Members of the
African Commission; the Secretary and Members of the Secretariat for continuing to keeping the
torch of human rights alight; to all State Parties and indeed the people of Africa for whom this
treaty and other instruments were established. Permit me to recognize our sister, Hon.
Commissioner Litha Musyimi Ogana and to congratulate her on her appointment and to wish her
well as she begins her tenure at the African Commission.
Congratulations are in order to the African Union Commission, particularly the Department of
Political Affairs, Peace and Security (formerly the Department of Political Affairs). The role of
the African Union in standard setting, strengthening the continental framework to promote and
protect human and peoples’ rights in Africa has, no doubt, stimulated the pursuit of human rights
which has become an integral responsibility, by ensuring that the Human Rights Strategy for
Africa is at the heart of the African Governance Architecture. The increased involvement of civil
society organisations in the consultative and implementation processes are exemplary and
commendable and have indeed gone a long way to enhance partnerships and promote ownership
of the various processes by the African people.
While appreciating these developments, the Forum asserted yet again that from the East to West
and Central, North to South, Africa continues to face serious human rights challenges
characterised by conflict, insecurity and violence. highlighting among others the rise in cases of
violence against women. Covid 19
Furthermore, The Forum noted with satisfaction the Commission of Enquiry into the situation
surrounding the allegations of gross and systematic violations in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
Poverty, disease, internal political strife, resulting in the taking up of arms by rebel and or
military groups, arbitrary detention and extrajudicial killings continue to bring hardships to the
majority of citizens of the affected countries, especially the women and children.
The situation in some States have remained a cause for concern. Unconstitutional changes of
government in a number of countries including Chad, Guinea, Mali and Sudan where serious and
massive human rights violations are being perpetrated against civilian population, serious
challenges which call for a constant and increasing strengthening of the protective and
promotional mandate of the Commission.
The inequalities brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the situation,
economically and politically, with limited or no access to the vaccines, especially in Africa. As
we plan for post covid 10, the attendant closing of civic space and the clamp down of protests;
the increasing and continuing fundamentalism in many countries including Nigeria were also
among the issues discussed. Cognisant of the Peace and Security’s decision to adopt ACHPR
Resolution 449 as a working document to address the pandemic in Africa, The Forum commends
ACHPR and urges states parties to adopt and implement this decision at the national level.
The Forum applauded the collaboration promoted by the ACHPR with its various stakeholders in
a bid to promote civic resilience of societies.
There were 11 panels plus an inaugural panel to discuss issues such as: