22 May 2017

Africa: Mali On the Spot At Arusha Human Rights Court Sessions

The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights (AfCHPR), sitting in Arusha, has begun its 45th Ordinary Session to determine 84 cases, including application against violation on inheritance rights, consent and minimum age of marriage for girls.

A statement issued in Dar es Salaam yesterday shows that the application in question has been filed by two applicants, the Malian lobby group APDH, and the Institute of Human Rights Development in Africa (IHRDA) against the Republic of Mali.

The APDF presents itself as a Malian Association with observer status before the AfCHPR, with the mission to encourage women's groups to defend their rights and interests against all forms of violence and discrimination.

Meanwhile, the IHRDA presents itself as a panAfrican NGO based in Banjul, Gambia, with the mission to assist victims of human rights violations in their quest for justice using national, African and international instruments.

The Republic of Mali, as respondent in the matter, became a party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on January 22, 1982; the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Establishment of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights on June 20, 2000.

It became party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on Rights of Women on February 3, 2005 and to African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child on August 14, 1998 and deposited special declaration allowing individuals and NGOs to directly access the Court, on February 19, 2010.

The statement quotes the applicants as stating that on August 3, 2009, the National Assembly of Mali, by majority, passed Act No 2011-087 establishing the Draft Persons on Family Code (PFC).

This draft was the outcome of lengthy review of the former Marriage and Guardianship Code 1962 which contained substantial gaps and several provisions of which had become obsolete.

Such Draft Code, welcomed by a broad section of the population as well as human rights advocacy organizations, was however rejected by another important segment of the population, particularly the mainstream Islamic organizations in the country.

The Draft Code was thus referred back to the Parliament for a second reading so as to enlist broader support from amongst the communities that came up against the adoption of this bill. The amended law was then promulgated on December 30, 2011 by the President of the Republic.

It is submitted by the applicants that the enacted law violates the relevant provisions of several aforementioned international human rights instruments ratified by Mali. It is for these reasons that the applicants brought the application before the court on July 26, 2016.

The applicants, APDH and IHRDA, allege violation by the Republic of government of Mali of women rights under the Maputo Protocol, notably violation of the right to inheritance as per Article 21(2) of Maputo Protocol and Articles 3 and 4 of African Charter on Rights and Welfare of Child (ACRWC).

They allege violation of minimum age of marriage for girls (Article 6.b of the Maputo Protocol and Articles 1(3), 2 and 21 of ACRWC and violation of right to consent to marriage (Article of Maputo Protocol and Article 16(a) and (b) of Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Furthermore, the applicants allege violation of the obligation to eliminate traditional practices and attitudes that undermine the rights of women and children as per Article 2(2) of the Maputo Protocol, 5(a) of the CEDAW and 1 (3) of the ACRWC.


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