Tanzania Seeks Withdrawal of Protocol At African Court

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Dar es Salaam — Tanzania is asking the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights (AfCHPR) to withdraw a protocol it views as contentious, a cabinet minister has said.

The minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Dr Augustine Mahiga, said yesterday that reports that Tanzania had withdrawn its AfCHPR membership were untrue, noting that the country was only asking for a review of a protocol it believes is contentious.

"The decision to withdraw our membership will only come after they fail to change the protocol that is contentious in the court's operations," he said.

He did not state the particular protocol, directing The Citizen instead to the Attorney General (AG), Prof Adelardus Kilangi.

However, the AG could not be reached on phone yesterday.

Dr Mahiga said the government has written to the Arusha-based AfCHPR, asking the court to withdraw the protocol, which he said was in contravention with Tanzania's laws.

"We have not withdrawn our membership, but there is one protocol in the operations of the court which is contrary to Tanzania's laws. What we have done is to write to the court so that it can change the protocol... We are waiting for the changes which when proved difficult then we will have to withdraw our membership," he said. The AfCHPR was established by African countries to ensure the protection of human and peoples' rights in Africa. It complements and reinforces the functions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights.

The court 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 as adopted by Member States of the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in June 1998. The Protocol came into force on 25 January 2004.

So far, nine out of the 30 states Parties to the Protocol had made the declaration recognising the competence of the Court to receive cases from NGOs and individuals.

The nine states are Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Malawi, Tanzania and Tunisia.

The court has jurisdiction over all cases and disputes submitted to it concerning the interpretation and application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, (the Charter), the Protocol and any other relevant human rights instrument ratified by the States concerned. Specifically, the Court has two types of jurisdiction: contentious and advisory.

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