States slow to encourage African Court, says international human rights group

21 September 2008

Embargo: 24 September 2008, 01:00 hrs (GMT + 3)

Ten years since its establishment - despite major human rights crises in Darfur, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe - the landmark African court of human rights has yet to hear a single case, a new report says.

In its report, African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights: Ten years on and still no justice, launched on 24 September, MRG says that even though judges have already been appointed, lack of political will has hampered the court from commencing work.

Having voted to establish the African Court, States seem wary about seeing it come to fruition. So far only 24 out of a possible 53 states of the African Union have ratified the Protocol to create the Court.

George Mukundi, author of the report, says, 'Africa's peoples deserve better. If human rights on the continent are to come of age, the Court must start its work without any further delays.'

The Court is especially crucial for Africa's minorities and indigenous peoples, who, as some of the poorest and most vulnerable on the continent, experience multiple human rights violations on a daily basis.

Samia Khan, MRG's Head of Programmes, says, 'Africa's minorities and indigenous peoples often fail to find redress for rights abuses in their own domestic courts. A strong regional legal mechanism such as the African Court is essential if their marginalization is to come to an end.'

George Mukundi says, 'The human rights landscape in Africa continues to be of grave concern. It is in the interests of States to make good their promises of a decade ago - an effective Court will help to strengthen democracy on the continent and ultimately lead to more robust and prosperous nations.'

The Court will have the power to bring States to account for violations of rights enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and will be a judicial system unique to the continent.

Unlike existing regional human rights monitoring body the African Commission, the African Court can issue binding legal decisions which States must abide by and can orders for specific remedies in favour of victims of rights abuses.

Notes to editors

  1. Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is a non governmental organisation working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide.
  2. The report, African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights: Ten years on and still no justice, will be launched at:
    Date: 11am, 24 September 2008
    Location: Pool View Conference Hall - Grand Imperial Hotel Nile Avenue Kampala, Uganda
  3. An embargoed copy of the report can be downloaded at http://www.minorityrights.org/download.php?id=537
  4. Ms. Samia Khan and Mr George Mukundi will be present at the press conference.
  5. For further information or to pre-arrange interviews with Ms Samia Khan and Mr George Mukundi please contact:
    Emma Eastwood
    Mobile in Kampala: +44 7989 699984
    E:

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