Tuesday, October 20, 2015

AfCHPR President advices South Africa over continental court.

The President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) Justice Augustino Ramadhani has advised South Africa to make the Declaration required under Article 34 (6), to allow non-governmental organisations and individuals to access the court directly. Justice Ramadhani made the call recently when responding to questions from participants who attended the one-day sensitisation colloquium on AfCHPR which was organised by the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA). More than 70 lawyers and human rights organisations attended the colloquium. Judge Ramadhani, Tanzania’s former Chief Justice, described South Africa as one of the nations on the continent which ratified the Court’s protocol 13 years ago. He said the challenge is that the country hasn’t made the Declaration required under Article 34(6), to allow non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and individuals to access the court directly. “The need for NGOs and individuals to directly access the Court is critical for the realisation of the objectives of the Court,” he stressed.  Nic Swart, Chief Executive Officer, Law Society of South Africa (LSSA), said that the legal fraternity has recognised the need to raise public awareness about the existence, functions, and accessibility of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. “The colloquium will help to create a better understanding of the Court and its procedures to the public,” he said.  The LSSA and its six constituents (National Association of Democratic Lawyers, Black Lawyers Association, Law Society of the Northern Provinces, Law Society of the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal Law Society and Cape Law Society) were among the attendees. Since the adoption of the Protocol in 1998, only 29 Member States of the African Union have ratified it. These are: Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Comoros, Congo, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Libya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Niger, Uganda, Rwanda, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo and Tunisia. As at October 2015, only seven of the 29 State Parties to the Protocol had made the Declaration recognizing the competence of the Court to receive cases from NGOs and individuals. The seven States are Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Rwanda and Tanzania.

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