In a strategic move directed at affording more African states access to its services, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) has scheduled a sensitization visit to the Republic of Djibouti between May 21 and 24 this year.
The court’s team, led by its president, Justice Sylvain Ore was recently in Nigeria on similar visit, during which it met with the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, leaders of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) including its President, Paul Usoro (SAN) and members of the nation’s human rights community, including senior officials of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
AfCHPR’s Registrar, Robert Eno said the team plans to hold discussions with various stakeholders in Djibouti with a view to promoting the court.
Eno added that the court’s team hopes to also pay courtesy calls on the country’s Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Justice and the Speaker of Parliament, among others.
The Registrar quoted the court’s President as saying: “The sensitization visit will help to raise awareness of the Court’s existence and encourage more African Union (AU) member states to ratify the Protocol and also make the Declaration to allow individuals and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to have direct access to the court.
‘’For the court to discharge its mandate and further strengthen the African human rights system, a greater number of countries must ratify the Protocol and make the declaration under Article 34(6).”
Eno noted that Djibouti signed the Protocol establishing the court on 15 November 2005 but is yet to ratify it and make a declaration.
He said: “Specific objectives of the sensitization visit include raising public awareness about the court; encouraging the ratification of the Protocol and deposit of the Declaration that allows individuals and NGOs direct access to the Court.
“Others are: sensitizing the would-be applicants on how to access the Court and the procedures before the Court; encouraging the public to utilize the Court in settling human rights disputes and encouraging the utilization of the Court for advisory opinions.”
AfCHPR was established by virtue of Article 1 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to complement the protective mandate of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, with a view to enhancing the protection of human rights on the continent.
Since the adoption of the Protocol in June 1998, 30 of 55 AU member states have ratified it and only nine State Parties to the Protocol have made the declaration under Article 34(6).
They are Burkina Faso, Benin, Ghana, Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Malawi, Tanzania and Tunisia.
As at March 2019, the Court received 202 applications of which 52 have been finalised.
The Court is composed of 11 Judges, nationals of Member States of the African Union elected in their individual capacity.
The Court meets four times a year in Ordinary Sessions and may hold an Extra-Ordinary Sessions.