ARUSHA, Tanzania, Sep 8 – Newly elected African Court President Sylvain Ore has urged more countries to ratify the protocol establishing the court to enable more people access to justice at the continental body.
Justice Ore said so far only 30 countries had ratified the protocol out of the 54 in the continent.
“I urge more countries to ratify the protocol establishing the court,” he told journalists in Arusha, “It is a matter of time and we are hopeful all the African countries will come in.”
Justice Ore of Ivory Coast who was elected President last week replaces Augustino Ramadhani. He is deputised by Justice Ben Kioko from Kenya.
Chad is the latest country to ratify the protocol that came into force in 2004 for the African Court on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) which is based in Arusha, Tanzania.
The states which have so far ratified the protocol include Kenya, Chad, Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Comoros, Congo, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, and Libya.
Others are Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Niger, Uganda, Rwanda, The Republic of Arab Sahrawi, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo and Tunisia.
Apart from ratifying the protocol, member states are required to make a declaration under Article 34 (6) to allow individuals and Non-Governmental Organisations file cases directly.
Established by the African Union, the ACHPR’s mandate is to protect human rights while ensuring justice prevails.
Only eight states have so far complied in making the declaration; Tanzania, Rwanda, Mali, Malawi, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso.
With increased human rights abuses in the continent, the African Court has lately embarked on efforts to create awareness on its existence and its mandate to benefit more people.
It includes training journalists from across the continent to enable them highlight more on the court’s existence and its activities.
“We recognise the crucial role the media plays in the society and that is why the court is keen on giving journalists more knowledge on what the court does,” Justice Ore told journalists attending a training on the court’s activities in Arusha, at the sidelines of the 42nd Ordinary Session.
The court’s activities are funded by various organisations, including German International Cooperation (GIZ) whose representative Karin Pluberg underscored the need to continue training journalists. “It’s key to the court’s success and so far journalists from more than 30 countries have been trained and we continue to support more trainings.”
During the three week-session, the judges will examine about 70 applications and four requests for advisory opinions as well as the swearing-in of two new judges and the election of the new bureau.
The new judges – Lady Justices Ntyam Ondo Mengue from Cameroon and Marie Therese Mukamulisa from Rwanda – were elected during last month’s African Union Summit in Kigali, Rwanda. The court is composed of eleven judges who meet four times a year in Ordinary Sessions, but may hold Extra-Ordinary Sessions when necessary.