The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (also known as the Banjul Charter) is an international human rights instrument that is intended to promote and protect human rights and basic freedoms in the African continent.
It emerged under the aegis of the Organisation of African Unity (since replaced by the African Union) which, at its 1979 Assembly of Heads of State and Government, adopted a resolution calling for the creation of a committee of experts to draft a continent-wide human rights instrument, similar to those that already existed in Europe (European Convention on Human Rights) and the Americas (American Convention on Human Rights). This committee was duly set up, and it produced a draft that was unanimously approved at the OAU's 18th Assembly held in June 1981, in Nairobi, Kenya. Pursuant to its Article 63 (whereby it was to "come into force three months after the reception by the Secretary General of the instruments of ratification or adherence of a simple majority" of the OAU's member states), the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights came into effect on 21 October 1986– in honour of which 21 October was declared "African Human Rights Day".
Oversight and interpretation of the Charter is the task of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, which was set up in November 2, 1987 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and is now headquartered in Banjul, Gambia. A protocol to the Charter was subsequently adopted in 1998 whereby an African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights was to be created. The protocol came into effect on 25 January 2004.
In July 2004, the AU Assembly decided that the ACHP would be incorporated into the African Court of Justice. In July 2005, the AU Assembly then decided that the ACHP should be operationalised despite the fact that the protocol establishing the African Court of Justice had not yet come into effect. Accordingly, the Eighth Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union meeting in Khartoum, Sudan, on 22 January 2006, elected the first judges of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights. The relationship between the newly created Court and the Commission is yet to be determined.
As of 2016, 54 states have ratified the Charter. It has been ratified by every AU member state.
The African Charter on Human and People's Rights includes preamble, 3 parts, 4 chapters, and 63 articles. The Charter followed the footsteps of the European and Inter-American systems by creating a regional human rights system for Africa. The Charter shares many features with other regional instruments, but also has notable unique characteristics concerning the norms it recognizes and also its supervisory mechanism.
The preamble commits to the elimination of Zionism, which it compares with colonialism and apartheid, caused South Africa to qualify its 1996 accession with the reservation that the Charter fall in line with the UN's resolutions "regarding the characterization of Zionism."
The Charter recognizes most of what are regarded universally accepted civil and political rights. The civil and political rights recognised in the Charter include the right to freedom from discrimination (Article 2 and 18(3)), equality (Article 3), life and personal integrity (Article 4), dignity (Article 5), freedom from slavery (Article 5), freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 5), rights to due process concerning arrest and detention (Article 6), the right to a fair trial (Article 7 and 25), freedom of religion (Article 8), freedom of information and expression (Article 9), freedom of association (Article 10), freedom to assembly (Article 11), freedom of movement (Article 12), freedom to political participation (Article 13), and the right to property (Article 14).
Some human rights scholars however consider the Charter's coverage of other civil and political rights to be inadequate. For example, the right to privacy or a right against forced or compulsory labour are not explicitly recognised. The provisions concerning fair trial and political participation are considered incomplete by international standards. However, this is subject to argument as for example Article 5 of the Charter states "Every individual shall have the right to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being and to the recognition of this legal status. All forms of exploitation and degradation of man particularly slavery, slave trade, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment shall be prohibited" also, Article 15 states "Every individual shall have the right to work under equitable and satisfactory conditions, and shall receive equal pay for equal work" - which may be understood to prohibit forced or compulsory labour, although this is not explicitly mentioned. Similarly, the Charter does not explicitly recognise the right to vote as a means of political participation, but Article 13 states "(1) Every citizen shall have the right to participate freely in the government of his country, either directly or through freely chosen representatives in accordance with the provisions of the law. (2) Every citizen shall have the right to equal access to the public service of his country. (3) Every individual shall have the right of access to public property and services in strict equality of all persons before the law."
The Charter also recognises certain economic, social and cultural rights, and overall the Charter is considered to place considerable emphasis on these rights. The Charter recognises right to work (Article 15), the right to health (Article 16), and the right to education (Article 17). Through a decision by the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, SERAC v Nigeria (2001), the Charter is also understood to include a right to housing and a right to food as “implicit” in the Charter, particularly in light of its provisions on the right to life (Art. 4), right to health (Art. 16) and to development (Art. 22).
In addition to recognising the individual rights mentioned above the Charter also recognises collective or group rights, or peoples' rights and third-generation human rights. As such the Charter recognises group rights to a degree not matched by the European or Inter-American regional human rights instruments. The Charter awards the family protection by the state (Article 18), while "peoples" have the right to equality (Article 19), the right to self-determination (Article 20), to freely dispose of their wealth and natural resources (Article 21), the right to development (Article 22), the right to peace and security (Article 23) and "a generally satisfactory environment" (Article 24).
The Charter not only awards rights to individuals and peoples, but also includes duties incumbent upon them. These duties are contained in Article 29 and are as follows:
'Neile Alina 'Mantoa Fanana (born 1945) is a Lesotho lawyer. She was appointed the ombudsman of Lesotho in 2010, and was the first women lawyer in the country.African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) is a quasi-judicial body tasked with promoting and protecting human rights and collective (peoples') rights throughout the African continent as well as interpreting the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and considering individual complaints of violations of the Charter. This includes investigating human rights violations, creating and approving programs of action towards encouraging human rights, and set up effect communication between them and states to get first hand information on violations of human rights. Although the ACHPR is under a regional government facility, they don't have any actual power and enforcement over laws. This ends up in them drafting up proposals to send up the chain of command to the Assembly of Heads of State and Government and they will act accordingly.The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) was based on the Banjul Charter which is the regional human rights protectors of human rights for Africa .The charter has twenty-nine articles that go into great detail on the rights and freedoms that follow a strict code of non-discrimination. The support and excitement over the Europeans current rights system, the evolution of granting everyone human rights, is what helped streamline the creation of this commission and other courts in Africa. The Commission came into existence with the coming into force, on 21 October 1986, of the African Charter (adopted by the OAU on 27 June 1981). Although its authority rests on its own treaty, the African Charter, the Commission reports to the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (formerly the Organization of African Unity). Its first members were elected by the OAU's 23rd Assembly of Heads of State and Government in June 1987 and the Commission was formally installed for the first time on 2 November of that year. For the first two years of its existence, the Commission was based at the OAU Secretariat in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, but in November 1989 it relocated to Banjul, Gambia. (NB: The ACHPR should be distinguished from the African Union Commission, as the OAU Secretariat has been renamed since the creation of the African Union.)
The Commission meets twice a year: usually in March or April and in October or November. One of these meetings is usually in Banjul, where the Commission's secretariat is located; the other may be in any African state.African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights
The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights (the Court) is a continental court established by African countries to ensure protection of human and peoples' rights in Africa. 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 after it was ratified by more than 15 countries.
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 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.
The Court is composed of eleven Judges, nationals of member states of the African Union. The first Judges of the Court were elected in January 2006, in Khartoum, Sudan. They were sworn in before the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union on 2 July 2006, in Banjul, the Gambia. The Judges of the Court are elected, after nomination by their respective states, in their individual capacities from among African jurists of proven integrity and of recognized practical, judicial or academic competence and experience in the field of human rights. The judges are elected for a six-year or four-year term renewable once. The judges of the Court elect a President and Vice-President of the Court among themselves who serve a two-year term. They can be re-elected only once. The President of the Court resides and works on a full-time basis at the seat of the Court, while the other ten judges work on a part-time basis. In the accomplishment of his duties, the President is assisted by a Registrar who performs registry, managerial and administrative functions of the Court.
The Court officially started its operations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in November 2006. In August 2007, it moved its seat to Arusha, the United Republic of Tanzania, where the government has provided it with temporary premises pending the construction of a permanent structure. Between 2006 and 2008, the Court dealt principally with operational and administrative issues, including the development of the structure of the Court's registry, preparation of its budget and drafting of its Interim Rules of Procedure. In 2008, during the Court's Ninth Ordinary Session, judges of the Court provisionally adopted the Interim Rules of the Court pending consultation with the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, based in Banjul, Gambia in order to harmonize their rules to achieve the purpose of the provisions of the Protocol establishing the Court, which requires that the two institutions must harmonize their respective Rules so as to achieve the intended complementarity between the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights and the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. This harmonization process was completed in April 2010 and in June 2010, the Court adopted its final Rules of Court.
According to the Protocol (Article 5) and the Rules (Rule 33), the Court may receive complaints and/or applications submitted to it either by the African Commission of Human and Peoples' Rights or State parties to the Protocol or African Intergovernmental Organizations. Non-Governmental Organizations with observer status before the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and individuals from States which have made a Declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the Court can also institute cases directly before the Court. As of January 2019, only nine countries have made such a declaration. Those countries are Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Rwanda, Tanzania, Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, Tunisia and the Gambia.The Court delivered its first judgment in 2009 following an application dated 11 August 2008 by Michelot Yogogombaye against the Republic of Senegal. As at January, 2016, the Court received 74 applications and finalized 25 cases. Currently the Court has five pending cases on its table to examine including requests for advisory opinion.African Human Rights Moot Court Competition
The African Human Rights Moot Court Competition is an international moot court competition with a special focus on human rights in Africa. The competition is organised by the Centre for Human Rights, based at the University of Pretoria Faculty of Law in South Africa. Each year, the competition is hosted by a Law Faculty from a different African country. Since its inception in 1992, the competition has had 845 participant teams originating from 125 universities from 45 African countries.The competition is tri-lingual and preliminary rounds are argued in English, French and Portuguese. Students argue a hypothetical human rights case and base their arguments on the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. The final round is argued by two teams made up of the best three Anglophone teams, two Francophone teams and one Lusophone team. The final round is judged by prominent African and international jurists.African Union law
African Union law is the body of law comprising treaties, resolutions and decisions that have direct and indirect application to the member States of the African Union (AU). Similar to European Union law, AU law regulates the behavior of countries party to the regional body.Child Rights Act in Nigeria
In 2003, Nigeria adopted the Child Rights Act to domesticate the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Although this law was passed at the Federal level, it is only effective if State assemblies also start it.
The Children’s Rights Act 2003 (CRA) was created to serve as a legal documentation and protection of Children rights and responsibilities in Nigeria.
The law has three primary purposes: to incorporate the rights of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights into the national law, to provide the responsibilities of government agencies associated with the law and to integrate children-focused legislation into one comprehensive law. It also acts as a legislation against Human trafficking since it forbids children from being "separated from ... parents against their will, except where it is in the best interests of the child,".Child sacrifice in Uganda
In Sub-Saharan Africa, "the practice of ritual killing and human sacrifice continues to take place ... in contravention of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and other human rights instruments." In the 21st century, such practices have been reported in Nigeria, Uganda, Swaziland, Liberia, Tanzania, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, as well as Mozambique, and Mali.This is the harmful practice of removing body parts, blood or tissue from a child who is still alive.Dama Dramani
Dama Dramani (born 1944) is a Togolese politician who has been President of the National Assembly of Togo since 2013. He was Secretary-General of the Rally of the Togolese People (RPT), the ruling party, from 2003 to 2006, and following the 2007 parliamentary election he was President of the RPT Parliamentary Group in the National Assembly.Human rights in Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast is a sub-Saharan nation in West Africa. It is a representative presidential democracy where rights are protected in the constitution, international law, and common law. As a member of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, it is a party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and a signatory to major international human-rights agreements. In 2011, the Second Ivorian Civil War saw increases in violence and human-rights abuses. Although progress has been made towards reconciliation, the trial of former first lady Simone Gbagbo (who was acquitted in 2017) suggests that the root causes have not been addressed; no one has been convicted of crimes against humanity. According to a 2018 Human Rights Watch report, "Ongoing indiscipline by members of the security services and violent army mutinies demonstrated the precariousness of the country’s newfound stability."International human rights law
International human rights law (IHRL) is the body of international law designed to promote human rights on social, regional, and domestic levels. As a form of international law, international human rights law are primarily made up of treaties, agreements between sovereign states intended to have binding legal effect between the parties that have agreed to them; and customary international law. Other international human rights instruments, while not legally binding, contribute to the implementation, understanding and development of international human rights law and have been recognized as a source of political obligation.The relationship between international human rights law and international humanitarian law is disputed among international law scholars. This discussion forms part of a larger discussion on fragmentation of international law. While pluralist scholars conceive international human rights law as being distinct from international humanitarian law, proponents of the constitutionalist approach regard the latter as a subset of the former. In a nutshell, those who favors separate, self-contained regimes emphasize the differences in applicability; international humanitarian law applies only during armed conflict.
A more systemic perspective explains that international humanitarian law represents a function of international human rights law; it includes general norms that apply to everyone at all time as well as specialized norms which apply to certain situations such as armed conflict between both state and military occupation (i.e. IHL) or to certain groups of people including refugees (e.g. the 1951 Refugee Convention), children (the Convention on the Rights of the Child), and prisoners of war (the 1949 Third Geneva Convention).Maputo Protocol
The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, better known as the Maputo Protocol, guarantees comprehensive rights to women including the right to take part in the political process, to social and political equality with men, improved autonomy in their reproductive health decisions, and an end to female genital mutilation. As the name suggests, it was adopted by the African Union in the form of a protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights in Maputo, Mozambique.Maroko, Lagos
Maroko was a community in Eti-Osa, Lagos State, Nigeria. It was adjacent to Ikoyi and east of Victoria Island. It was a low-income area that attracted a lot of migrants since it was in close proximity to economically robust areas. Flooding and sand-filling affected Maroko during its life.In July 1990, the Lagos State government, under Raji Rasaki, evicted the residents of Maroko and demolished the community. The government said that Maroko was below sea level and needed to be filled in with sand and that Maroko needed infrastructure improvements. About 300,000 people lost their houses. It was one of the largest forced evictions in Nigerian history.The former residents tried to get compensation in the Nigerian court system. In December 2008 the Social and Economic Rights Action Centre (SERAC) and Debevoise & Plimpton, filed a communication with the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, stating that the eviction violated the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.Maroko is a setting in the book Graceland by Chris Abani. The Beatification of Area Boy, a play written by Wole Soyinka in 1995, has its plot woven around the infamous eviction of Maroko residents.Pambazuka News
Pambazuka News is an open access, Pan-African e-mail and online electronic newsletter. It is published weekly in English, Portuguese and French by Fahamu. The word Pambazuka means 'dawn' or 'arise' in Kiswahili.
Since its inception in 2000, its mission has been to provide a platform for social justice in Africa, for example, by promoting human rights for refugees. Pambazuka News provides commentary and analysis on politics and current affairs. The estimated readership is 500, 000. Pambazuka News produces the AU Monitor, a blog which provides information to civil society organizations in Africa about the proceeds of the African Union. It also produces podcasts. Pambazuka promoted the ratification of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa .Recognition of same-sex unions in Nigeria
Nigeria recognizes neither same-sex marriages nor civil unions for same-sex couples. Homosexuality can land men up to 14 years in prison in Southern Nigeria and capital punishment for men in areas under Sharia Islamic Law. Proposals to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage compacted with severe penalties to those convicted of performing or participating in such, have twice surfaced. A similar bill is currently pending parliamentary approval.On January 18, 2007 the Federal Executive Council approved a law, Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2006, prohibiting same sex marriages and sent it to the National assembly for urgent action. According to the Minister of Justice, Chief Bayo Ojo, the law was pushed by President Olusegun Obasanjo following the international conference on HIV/AIDS (ICASA) in 2005.
The proposed bill calls for five years imprisonment for anyone who undergoes, "performs, witnesses, aids, or abets" a same-sex marriage. It would also prohibit any display of a "same-sex amorous relationship" and adoption of children by gays or lesbians. The bill is expected to receive little or no opposition in Parliament. The same-sex marriage ban would make Nigeria the second country in Africa to criminalize such unions. In 2005, the Ugandan constitution was amended to ban same-sex marriage.The same bill would also call for five years imprisonment for involvement in public advocacy or associations supporting the rights of lesbian and gay people. Included in the bill is a proposal to ban any form of relationship with a gay person. The intent of the bill is to ban anything remotely associated with being 'gay' or just gay in the country.In February 2006, the United States State Department condemned the proposal. In March 2006, 16 international human rights groups signed a letter condemning the bill, calling it a violation of the freedoms of expression, association and assembly guaranteed by international law as well as by the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and a barrier to the struggle against the spread of AIDS. Some sources claim that Nigeria has the world's third-highest population of persons with AIDS: 3.6 million Nigerians are infected with HIV.Regional human rights regimes
Regional human rights regimes are relatively independently coherent human rights sub-regimes that are nested within the larger frame work of International human rights practice. Three principal regional human rights instruments can be identified, the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, the American Convention on Human Rights (the Americas) and the European Convention on Human Rights.Right to development
The right to development was first recognized in 1981 in Article 22 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights as a definitive individual and collective right. Article 22(122) provides that: "All peoples shall have the right to their economic, social and cultural development with due regard to their freedom and identity and in the equal enjoyment of the common heritage of mankind."
The right to development was subsequently proclaimed by the United Nations in 1986 in the "Declaration on the Right to Development," which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 41/128. The Right to development is a group right of peoples as opposed to an individual right, and was reaffirmed by the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
The right to development is now included in the mandate of several UN institutions and offices.
The Preamble of the Declaration on the Right to Development states "development is a comprehensive economic, social, cultural and political process, which aims at the constant improvement of the well-being of the entire population and of all individuals on the basis of their active, free and meaningful participation in development and in the fair distribution of benefits resulting therefrom."Right to work
The right to work is the concept that people have a human right to work, or engage in productive employment, and may not be prevented from doing so. The right to work is enshrined in the Universal Declarati on of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law through its inclusion in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, where the right to work emphasizes economic, social and cultural development.SOAWR
Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR) was inaugurated in 2004 as a regional network of more than 20 civil society organizations working on the issue of women’s rights. A particular focus is violence against women with a concentration on gaining signatories and ratification of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Protocol).
Report of the Review and Agenda Setting Workshop, September 11-13, 2006Said Djinnit
Said Djinnit (Arabic: سعيد جينيت) (born June 7, 1954) is an Algerian diplomat who has been Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region in Africa since 2014. Previously he served as the Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA).
He served as the Commissioner for Peace and Security at the African Union, with responsibility for issues including the Darfur conflict.He also served in various capacities in the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now African Union, including as OAU Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs. At OAU, he spearheaded efforts by the General Secretariat/Commission in supporting peace processes on the continent, including Ethiopia-Eritrea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Comoros, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, Central Africa Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sudan, Somalia. He also helped create important OAU/AU initiatives such as the Protocol on the African Union Peace and Security Council(2002), the Conceptual Framework on the African Standby Force and Military Staff Committee, the Draft Common African Defense and Security Policy, the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community relating to the Pan African Parliament, the Declaration on the Framework for an OAU Response to Unconstitutional Changes of Government(2000), the Draft Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, and the Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa (CSSDCA).
He was the leader of the African Union Commission for the deployment of the first ever African Union peacekeeping operation. Under his leadership, the Organisation of African Unity team participated in the proximity talks between Ethiopia and Eritrea and acquired the signature of both parties to the Algiers agreements of June and December 2000. He also served as Chairman of the OAU Secretariat Task Force on the drafting of the Constitutive Act of the African Union (1999–2000).
He was appointed as Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region in Africa on 17 July 2014.
As a diplomat, he also served for Algeria on various diplomatic missions. He was Chargé d'affaires of the Algerian Embassy in Brussels and Deputy Head of Mission in Addis Ababa.
He holds a diploma in diplomacy from the École nationale d'administration. He has also studied at the Centre for International Relations Studies, University of Brussels, and at the Institute of Political Affairs, University of Algiers.
Djinnit is fluent in Arabic, French, and English.
African Union (AU)