70 lawyers and human rights organizations attended a one-day sensitization of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights organized by the South African Law Society in Johannesburg, South Africa recently. The President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) Hon. Justice Augustino Ramadhani addressed the opening and later responded to a myriad of questions from the participants.
Justice Ramadhani encouraged South Africa, which ratified the Court’s protocol some 13 years ago, to make the Declaration required under Article 34(6), to allow Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and individuals to access the court directly.
“The need for NGOs and individuals to directly access the Court is critical for the realization of the objectives of the Court,” he stressed.
Mr Nic Swart, Chief Executive Officer, Law Society of South Africa (LSSA), said that the legal fraternity has recognized the need to raise public awareness about the existence, functions, and accessibility of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
“The colloquium will help to create a better understanding of the Court and its procedures to the public,” he said.
The LSSA and its six constituents (National Association of Democratic Lawyers, Black Lawyers Association, Law Society of the Northern Provinces, Law Society of the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal Law Society and Cape Law Society) were among the attendees.
1. Since the adoption of the Protocol in 1998, only 29 Member States of the African Union have ratified it. These are: Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Comoros, Congo, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Niger, Uganda, Rwanda, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo and Tunisia.
2. As at October 2015, only seven of the 29 States Parties to the Protocol had made the Declaration recognizing the competence of the Court to receive cases from NGOs and individuals. The seven States are Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Rwanda and Tanzania.