ARUSHA, Kenya Aug 14 – The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) has kicked off a sensitization visit to the Republic of Guinea Bissau from, as part of measures to popularise its activities.
The visit, that kicked off Monday, will also enable the mission, to be composed of three Judges and Registry Staff, to hold discussions with various stakeholders with a view to promoting the Court, according to a statement from its Spokesman Sukhdev Chhatbar.
Guinea Bissau is among African countries that have signed the Protocol establishing the Court in June 1998 but are yet to ratify it and make a Declaration.
The mission is also expected to pay courtesy calls on the President, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Justice and the Speaker of Parliament, among others.
The President of the AfCHPR, Justice Sylvain Oré, said that in order for the Court to achieve its objectives, there is a need for more countries to ratify the Protocol and deposit the Declaration that allows access to the Court by Non-Governmental Organizations and individuals.
So far, 30 out of 55 AU Member States have ratified the Protocol, and only 8 countries have made a declaration under Article 34(6) that allows access to the Court by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and individuals.
‘’It is within this framework that since 2010, the Court has embarked on a sensitization programme, which has enabled it to carry out outreach visits, seminars and conferences at national, regional and continental levels”, Justice Oré said.
He added: “These activities are aimed at enabling the Court to interact with different actors in order to afford them the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the Court’s mission and possibilities that it offers in terms of human rights protection.’’
The African Court undertook similar sensitizations to the Arab Republic of Egypt and Republic of Tunisia in April this year which resulted in Tunisia depositing a declaration allowing NGOs and individuals to access the Court, whereas Egypt expressed its willingness to work towards the ratification of the Protocol establishing the Court.
The Arusha-based court was established under Article 1 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to complement the protective mandate of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights with a view to enhancing the protection of human rights on the continent.
Justice Oré has always emphasized that the success of the Court as a human rights protection mechanism requires much wider ratification of the Protocol by Member States, as well as their acceptance of the competence of the Court by making the Declaration under Article 34(6). This “universal” ratification will give the Court the legitimacy it needs to effectively discharge its mandate.