Africa: Ghana Hosts Workshop On the African Charter And the Maputo Protocol

press release

A State reporting workshop on the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (African Charter) and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) has ended in Accra.

The overall objective of the three-day workshop was to strengthen the capacity of state parties to fulfill their reporting obligations to the African Commission.

Specifically, the training workshop aimed to provide an overview of the substantive provisions of the African Charter and the Maputo Protocol; draw the attention of the relevant stakeholders to the guidelines on state reporting under the Protocol; discuss the nature of the state reporting obligations in Articles 62 of the Charter and 26 of the Protocol; discuss the nuts and bolts of the State Party reporting process within the context of Ghana and the art of drafting state reports; and to provide an opportunity for relevant stakeholders in Ghana to start working on their reports to the African Commission.

Government representatives and representatives from National Human Rights and Civil Society Organizations attended the workshop, which was organized by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa in partnership with the Moremi Institute for Women's Leadership in Africa.

In an address to open the workshop, Cecil Kwashie Adadevoh, Chief State Attorney, Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice, conceded that the preparation of State Human Rights Reports was difficult for governments due to the task of co-ordination between their various agencies and public servants, already overburdened with sector schedules.

Mr Adadevoh, therefore, commended the organizers for the initiative and expressed the hope that the African States Reporting mechanism would improve to mirror that of the United Nations Organization.

In his remarks, Dr. Isaac Lartey Annan, Director, Human Rights Department, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) Ghana, noted that state reporting was undermined by the multiplicity of reporting organizations in Ghana.

Dr Annan said it was important for State Parties to respect their commitments made and fulfill the duties imposed on them as signatories in order to facilitate the effective implementation of the Charter and the Protocols.

He pledged the commitment of CHRAJ to efforts at enforcing the rights and freedoms outlined in the Charter and the Protocols, and urged participants to take the training seriously.

In a presentation, Prof. Michelo Hansungule, Professor of Law, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa, underscored the importance of the African Charter, in view of its provision for three sets of rights in one document.

Prof. Hansungule referred to Article 2 to Article 14 as Rights on Non-discrimination; Article 15 to Article 18 as Socio-economic Rights; and Article 19 to Article 24 as Solidarity Rights.

He said in order to strengthen the African Human Rights system, it became necessary to introduce additional instruments, namely the Protocol on the African Court and the Maputo Protocol.

The Maputo Protocol, he said, was an important instrument designed to bring visibility to women's issues.

Prof. Hansungule disclosed that another protocol, arising from the principle of Non-discrimination―the Protocol on Disability― was yet to be ratified.

He expressed concern about the failure of State Parties to submit periodic reports as required, noting that out of the 54 State Parties, 15 of them had not so far submitted any reports and that even those who submitted any report, did so only once.

Pursuant to Article 62 of the African Charter, State Parties are required to submit every two years, a report on the legislative or other measures taken, with a view to giving effect to the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed by the Charter.

Further, supplementary instruments to the African Charter, such as the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol), require State Parties to indicate in their periodic reports submitted in accordance with Article 62 of the African Charter, the legislative and other measures taken for the full realization of the rights recognized in the Protocol.

Fifty-four (54) African Union (AU) Member States have ratified the African Charter, with the Republic of South Sudan as the latest State Party, having ratified the Charter on October 23, 2013.

The African Charter established the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights which was inaugurated on November 2, 1987 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with Banjul, in The Gambia, as the Commission's Secretariat.

In addition to performing any other tasks which may be assigned to it by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, the Commission is officially charged with three major functions, namely the Protection of Human and Peoples' Rights, Promotion of Human and Peoples' Rights and the Interpretation of the African Charter.

Over the years, the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa, has come to assume the role of working towards the popularization and implementation of the Maputo Protocol in support of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of women in Africa through the training of African states which have ratified the Charter and the Protocol on fulfilling their reporting obligations to the African Commission.

On the other hand, the Moremi Initiative for Women's Leadership in Africa (MILEAD), which collaborated with the Centre for Human Rights for the organization of the workshop, is a non-profit organization that operates throughout Africa.

Established in 2004 as Women's Initiative for Empowerment and Leadership Development (WIELD) Foundation, Moremi Initiative grew from a Ghana-based leadership development programme to a pan-African wide programme which pursues proactive strategies to develop and empower young women and girls to take on leadership roles in their communities.

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