African Court Pushes Liberia to Ratify Protocol

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(From left) Justice Sylvain Ore, President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights; House Judiciary Chairman, J. Fonati Koffa: “the visit created an opportunity for the Court to interact with the leadership of the House of Representatives to know the overview of the African human rights protection system and the role of the Court in contentious matters.”

– Meets House of Representatives

Amid extensive human rights abuses in Africa, due mainly to political instability and civil war, the African Union (AU) has committed to strengthening human rights systems on the continent, to positively influence the improvement of human rights and justice and has urged the Liberian Government to ratify the Protocol of the African Court of Human and Peoples Rights

In a campaign to encourage Liberia to ratify the Protocol of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, a seven-man delegation, headed by Justice Sylvain Ore, President of the Court, is in the country to hold an “acquaintance meeting” with the Leadership of the House of Representatives of the 54th Legislature.

Other members of the delegation include Justice Gerald Niyungeko – Judge of the Court and former President of the African Court, Chhatbar  Sukhdev, – Senior Communications and Information Officer; Ms. Meredith D. Lwanga – Legal Officer; Simba Tamambele – Protocol Assistant;  George Zziwa – Finance Officer, and Ms. Netsanet Haile – Secretary, an Registrar’s Office.

The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Prince K. Moye, and the Judiciary Chairman, Representative J. Fonati Koffa, were among other executive members of the House attending the meeting.

In separate remarks, Justices Ore, Niyungeko and Mr. Sukhdev said for the Court to attain its objective, it needs collaboration from African States, particularly those party to the Protocol, but Liberia has neither ratified the Protocol nor deposited the Declaration.

They explained that since the adoption of the Protocol in June 1998, approximately 20 years ago, only 30 of the 55 member states of the African Union have so far ratified it, and only eight state parties have the declaration provided for under Article 34 (6), allowing for direct access to the Court  by individuals following the exhaustion of local remedies.

They indicated that as at July, 2018, the Court has received 179 applications on contentious matters of which 45 have been dealt with and 130 are still pending. And also the Court received 13 applications for Advisory Opinion, with only one pending determination, also four applications for interpretation of judgment have been finalized.

The delegation further told lawmakers that, “When a case is tried in an international court, like the ECOWAS Court, it cannot be tried in the African Court.”

If the Protocol is ratified by the House of Representatives and the Senate, Liberian citizens and non-governmental organizations operating in the country will be able to file cases directly at the African Court on Human and People’s Rights.

The delegation of the African Court on Tuesday, August 7, will have a half-day Sensitization and Awareness Seminar at the Boulevard Palace Hotel.

Moye thanked the delegation, but said “the House of Representatives await receipt of  the Protocol from the Executive after their looking into it for an appropriate action.”

Rep. Koffa told journalists that, “The visit created an opportunity for the Court to interact with the leadership of the House of Representatives to get an overview of the African human rights protection system and the role of the Court in contentious matters.”

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights is a continental court established by African countries to ensure the protection of human and peoples’ rights on the continent. It complements and reinforces the functions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The Court 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 on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Protocol), which was adopted by member states of the then Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in June, 1998. The Protocol came into force on 25 January 2004.

The Court officially started its operations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In November 2006 and in August 2007, it moved to its seat in Arusha, the United Republic of Tanzania.

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