Africa: Afchpr Adopts New Rules of Court

Court gavel

African Court on Human and People's Rights has adopted new Rules aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of the Court by, among other things, facilitating access, improving the management of cases as well as ensuring better implementation of Court's decisions.

According to a statement issued by the Continental Court, the revised Rules of Court, adopted on September 1, 2020 entered into force on September 25, 2020. These Rules replace the 2010 Rules of Court.

Under the new Rules, State Parties to a case have the obligation to cooperate so as to ensure that all notices, communications or summonses addressed to persons residing in their territory or falling under their jurisdiction are duly executed.

Pursuant to Article 10 (3) of the Protocol, the Court shall, whenever necessary, request that State Parties take special measures to guarantee the security of parties, witnesses, experts and other persons appearing before it.

"The same Rule shall apply to any proceeding that the Court decides to conduct or order in the territory of any Member State of the African Union," reads part of the new Rules.

It is stated that when the performance of any of the measures referred to in the preceding paragraphs requires the cooperation of any other State, the President shall request the government concerned to provide the requisite assistance.

During hearing of cases, according to the Rules, every party to a case shall be entitled to be represented or to be assisted by counsel and/or by any other person of the party's choice.

Pursuant to Article 10 (2) of the Protocol, the Court may, upon request or suo motu (own motion), decide to provide, in the interest of justice and within the limits of the financial resources available, free legal assistance to any party at any stage of the proceedings.

The Rules also indicate that the Court shall maintain a Legal Aid scheme for the purpose of implementing this Rule and shall collaborate with the AU Commission in the management of the African Union Legal Aid Fund for African Union Human Rights Organs.

It is further stated that pursuant to Article 9 of the Protocol, the Court may promote amicable settlement of cases pending before it.

To that end, it may invite the parties and take appropriate measures to facilitate amicable settlement of the dispute.

The parties to a case before the Court may on their own initiative solicit the Court's intervention to settle their dispute amicably at any time before the Court gives its judgment and that any negotiations with a view to reaching an amicable settlement shall be confidential.

In the event of an amicable settlement of a case, the Court shall render judgment limited only to the facts and the solution adopted.

The Court may, having regard to its discretion under the Protocol and in the interest of justice or to preserve public interest or order, decide to proceed with a case notwithstanding that an amicable settlement has been reached by the parties.

Court Rules have indicated the parties pursuant to the provisions of Article 5 (1) and (3) of the Protocol, persons who are entitled to submit cases to the Court.

They include the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (Commission) and the State Party which has lodged an Application to Commission.

Others are the State Party against which an application has been lodged at the Commission; the State Party whose citizen is a victim of a human rights violation and an African Intergovernmental Organisation.

The list also includes an individual or a Non-Governmental Organisation which has Observer Status before the Commission provided the requirements of Article 34(6) of the Protocol are met.

In accordance with Article 5(2) of the Protocol, a State Party which has an interest in a case may submit a request to the Court to be permitted to join in accordance with the procedure established under Rule 61 of these Rules.

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