African Court exposes editors to inner operations

Francis Ameyibor, GNA Correspondent, Arusha Tanzania

Arusha, Sept. 12,
GNA – African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR), has exposed about 50
senior editors and journalists from more than 25 African countries to the inner
operations of the court.

The African Court at
Arusha, Tanzania serves as the continental court established by African
countries to ensure the protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa
complements and reinforces the functions of the African Commission on Human and
Peoples’ Rights.

Dr Robert Eno,
Registrar of the African Court explained that as at February 2016, only seven
of the 30 States Parties to the Protocol had made the declaration recognising
the competence of the Court to receive cases from non-governmental

He therefore
commended the seven including Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Malawi,
Benin and Tanzania for taking the bold steps towards broadening the scope of
protecting the rights of their citizens.

Dr Eno, who led a
team of officials of the Court to school the senior editors and journalists,
explained that Rwanda made the declaration on February 6, 2013 but has recently
served noticed for the withdrawal of the declaration next year.

The 23 States who
have ratified the Protocol but are yet to make the declaration are: Algeria,
Burundi, Cameroon , Chad, Comoros, Congo, Gabon, The Gambia, Kenya, Libya,
Lesotho, Mozambique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Nigeria, Niger, Rwanda, Sahrawi
Arab Democratic Republic, South Africa, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia and Uganda.

Dr Eno explained
that 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 (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.

Justice Ben Kioko
Vice President of the Court explained that the African Court under Article 3 of
the Protocol has jurisdiction to deal with all cases and disputes submitted to
it regarding the interpretation and application of the Charter, the Protocol
and any other relevant human rights instrument ratified by the concerned States.

He noted that under
Article 4 of the Protocol, the Court may, at the request of a AU Member State,
any AU organs, or any African organisation recognised by the AU, provide an
opinion on any legal matter relating to the Charter or any other relevant human
rights instruments.

He said provided
that the subject matter of the opinion is not related to a matter being
examined by the Commission.

Justice Kioko, who
is a Kenyan Judge, said in February 2009, the Assembly of Heads of State and
Government of the AU requested the AU Commission, in consultation with AfCHPR,
to assess the implications of extending the jurisdiction of the Court to try
international crimes, such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

To implement this
decision of the Assembly, the AU Commission engages a consultant to undertake a
study on the implications of extending the jurisdiction of the AfCHPR (yet to
become operational), including  
considering whether unconstitutional change or prolongation of
government, could be considered a new crime.

He said the Draft
Protocol with an extended mandate of the Court is currently under consideration
by AU Policy Organs.

Mr Sukhdev Chhatbar,
African Court Senior Information and Communication Officer who took the senior
Editors and Journalists around the facility of the Court explained that it has
an open door policy.

The Court is
equipped with modern technological gadgets, progressive security network headed
by Major Kwame Keddey (Rtd) of Ghana. 

Mr Chhatbar
explained that the exposure of the senior editors and journalists which formed
part of a three-day training would form the basis for a new collaborative works
with African media.

He said the African
Court is opening a new channel for communicating with media across the continent
for the protection of human and people’s rights.


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