Arusha, 8 August 2018: The Republic of Sierra Leone and the Republic of Liberia have expressed their willingness to ratify the Protocol establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights and deposit the special declaration under Article 34(6) to allow individuals and NGOs to access the Court directly. The assurances were given by President Julius Maada Bio of the Republic of Sierra Leone and President George Weah of the Republic of Liberia during separate courtesy calls in Freetown and Monrovia respectively by the visiting African Court delegation led by its President Hon Justice Sylvain Oré.
Other members of the delegation included the former President of the Court Hon Justice Gérard Niyungeko and the Registry staff.
H.E President Bio appreciated the Continental Court's efforts at strengthening human and people's rights across Africa when receiving the African Court delegation on 2 August 2018 at the State House.
"We are new in office but our commitment to human rights is very strong and you can be rest assured that we will give this particular issue a positive consideration. We will look at it and consider the ratification and the declaration. My government will look into the issues and take positive measures about them," he stated during talks with the Court's delegation.
The President of Liberia H.E Dr George Weah, welcomed the delegation to Monrovia on Monday 7 August 2018, and said that his country was committed to protecting and observing human rights and fully backed the work of the Continental Court.
Dr Weah also assured the delegation of his government's support towards ratification of the Protocol establishing the African Court, adding: "You have our support in protection of human rights on our continent."
The sensitisation missions are part of the on-going efforts of the Court to interact with different stakeholders in order to deepen their understanding of the Court's mission and to encourage States to ratify the Protocol establishing the AfCHPR and to deposit the special declaration.
So far, 30 out of 55 African Union (AU) Member States have ratified the Protocol and only 8 of them have deposited the declaration. These 8 States are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Tanzania and Tunisia.
Both Sierra Leone and Liberia are yet to ratify the Protocol establishing the Court and deposit the declaration.
"Sierra Leone and Liberia have made tremendous democratic gains in recent years and I encourage them to ratify the Protocol and to deposit the declarations," underscored the President of the AfCHPR, Hon Justice Sylvain Oré.
The Court delegation held seminars for human rights stakeholders in the two West African countries and also paid courtesy calls on the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Justice, the Legislature, the Judiciary, the Human Rights Commission and the Bar Association, among others.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
1. The 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.
2. The success of the Court as a human rights protection mechanism requires a wider ratification of the Protocol by Member States, as well as their acceptance of the competence of the Court, by making the declaration under Article 34(6). This "universal" ratification will give the Court the legitimacy it needs to effectively discharge its mandate.
3. Since December 2010, the Court has carried out continent-wide promotion programmes which have so far seen it undertake 25 national sensitisations.
4. The main objective of the sensitisation visits is to enhance the protection of human rights in Africa. Specific objectives include raising 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; sensitising would-be applicants on how to access the Court and the procedures before the Court; encouraging the public to utilise the Court in settling human rights disputes and encouraging the utilisation of the Court for advisory opinions.
Further information on the Court can be obtained from the Court's website at www.african-court.org.
For more comments:
Dr Robert Eno, Registrar
Tel: +255 2970430; 02970431; 02970432; 02970433; 02970434; 02970435