Tema, Nov. 11, GNA - Guinea Bissau has joined the community of African Union members who have boldly ratified the Protocol establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and simultaneously deposited a Declaration under Article 34 (6) of the Protocol.
Guinea Bissau becomes the eight country to sign the declaration to allow individuals and Non-Governmental Organisations to access the African Court directly.
Guinea Bissau’s Ratification and Declaration was officially handed over on Tuesday, November 3, 2021, by Mr. Alamara Quessangue, to a representative of the Office of the Legal Counsel of the African Union Commission, Ms Tsion Bhergano.
It was handed over on the side lines of the Conference on the Implementation and Impact of Decisions of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and made available to the Ghana News Agency.
The Republic of Niger had earlier deposited its Declaration at the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on October 28, 2021.
The other States that have Declarations that are in effect are: Ghana, Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Malawi, Mali and Tunisia.
Guinea Bissau’s delegation received accolades when handing over the Declaration to the representative of the Office of the Legal Counsel and the President of the Court, Lady-Justice Imani Aboud, at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre in Dar es Salaam.
Lady-Justice Aboud lauded Guinea Bissau and Niger, stating that they will go a long way in enhancing confidence in the African Court and ultimately the protection of human and peoples’ rights on the continent.
Prior to the commencement of the Conference, Lady-Justice Aboud led a sensitisation visit to the Republic of Niger from October 21st to 23, 2021 during which President Mohamed Bazoum reiterated his country’s strong commitment to the protection of human rights and to the mandate of the African Court as the only continental judicial body of the African Union.
The African Court, is celebrating 15 years since it became operational. It 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.
The Protocol was adopted on June 9, 1998 in Burkina Faso and entered into force on January 25, 2004. The African Court officially started its operations in November 2006 following the election of the first Judges in January 2006 and their swearing in, in July 2006.
Meanwhile the African Union Executive Council has been tasked to repeal Article 34(6) of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights establishing the African Court.
Delegates at the International Conference on the implementation and Impact of Decisions of the African Court: Challenges and Prospects at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were unanimous in identifying article 34(6) as the main hindrance to the operations of the courts decisions.
Various speakers mainly: judges, lawyers, academia, civil society organisation and other strategic stakeholders on human rights identified the article as a challenge and question why such a requirement and urged African Union states to initiate the process towards repealing the inhibiting law to make the African Court more beneficial to the public.
Some delegates classified the Article 34(6) as opening a door way to Africans to enter and seek for human rights remedies at the African Court but, using an indoor not visible to outsiders to restrict your entry.
African Governments must demonstrate their commitment to upholding the tenets of human rights by repealing article 34(6) immediately to make way for entry.