Twelfth Annual Activity Report of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights- 1998 -1999


A. Period covered by the the Report

The Eleventh Annual Activity Report was adopted by the 34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), meeting from 8 to 10 June, 1998 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, by Decision AHG/Dec. 126 (XXXIV). The Twelfth Annual Activity Report covers the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Ordinary Sessions of the Commission held respectively in Banjul, The Gambia, from 26 April to 5 May, 1999.

B. Status of Ratification

2. All the OAU Member States have either ratified or acceded to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. Annex 1 contains the list of States Parties to the African Charter on Human and peoples' Rights, stating, among others, the dates of the signing, the ratification or accession as well as the depositing of the instruments of ratification or accession.

C. Sessions and Agend

3. The Commission held two Ordinary Sessions since the adoption in June
1998 of its Eleventh Annual Activity Report:

Twenty-fourth Ordinary Session held in Banjul, The Gambia, Headquarters of the Commission, from 22 to 31 October, 1998;

Twenty-fifth Ordinary Session held in Bujumbura, Burundi, from 26 April to 5 May, 1999;

The Agenda of each of these Sessions is attached as Annex II to this Report.

D. Composition and Attendance

4. The following members of the Commission participated in the deliberations of the 24th Session:

Mr. Youssoupha Ndiaye Chairman
Dr. Vera Valentino Duarte?Martins -Vice-Chairman
Mr. Atsu Koffi Amega
Dr. Mohamed Hatem Ben Salem
Professor E.V.0. Dankwa
Professor Issac Nguema
Mrs. Julienne Ondziel-Gnelenga
Dr. Nyameko Barney Pityana
Mr. M. Kamel Rezag-Bara

5. Commissioner Ibrahim Ali Badawi El Sheikh was absent with apologies.

6. The Representatives of the following States Parties participated in the deliberations of the 24th Session and some of them made statements: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, The Sudan, Zambia.

Tribute to Mr. Alioune Blondin Beye

7. The Commission devoted part of the Fourth sitting of the 24th Session to remember the Late Commissioner Alioune Blondin Beye who was the victim in an air crash that occurred on 26 June, 1998 in Cote d'Ivoire. Tribute was paid particularly by Messrs Alioune Tine of the "Rencontre Africaine pour La Defense des Droits de I'Homme (RADDHO)" and Christophe Compaore of the "Mouvement Burkinabe des Droits de PHomme et des Peuples (MBDHP) on behalf of the NGO community as well as by Commissioner Atsu Koffi Amega and Chairman Youssoupha Ndiaye: on behalf of the Commission. The speakers pointed out the major qualities of Late Alioune Blondin Beye whose studious and sociable youth, his professional competence, his love for work, his devotion to the cause of peace in Africa and in the work, his faithfulness and particularly his generosity towards his brothers and friends. The Commission decided to call the 24th Session "The Alioune Blondin Beye Session" and to establish a Human Rights Prize "Alioune Blondin Beye Prize".

8. The following members of the Commission participated in the deliberations of the 25'hOrdinary Session:

Mr. Youssoupha Ndiaye Chairman
Dr. Vera Valentino Duarte Martins Vice-Chairman
Dr. Ibrahim Ali Badawi El-Sheikh
Dr. Mohammed Hatem Ben Salem
Professor E.V.0. Dankwa
Professor Issac Nguema
Mrs. Julienne Ondziel?Gnelenga, Dr. Nyameko Barney Pityana
Mr. Kamal Rezag?Bara

9. Commissioner Atsu Koffi Amega was absent with apologies.

10. The Representatives of the following States participated in the deliberations of the 25th Ordinary Session and some of them made statements: Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, The Garnbia, Mauritania, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, The Sudan, Zarnbia. The Secretary?General of the Organization of African Unity, Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, graced the 25h Session and made a statement.

11. Many Non?Governmental Organizations (NG0s) and National Institutions also participated in the deliberations of the two Ordinary Sessions.

Adoption of Twelfth Annual Activity Report

12. The Commission considered and adopted the Twelfth Annual Activity Report at its sitting of 5 May, 1999.


13. Under Article 62 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, each State Party pledges to present every two years, as from the date of entry into force of the Charter, a Report on the legislative and other measures taken to give effect to the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the said Charter.

14. It was within that framework that the initial Report of Angola was considered by the Commission at its 24th Session and expressed satisfaction at the quality of the Report. It thanked the Representative of Angola for the efforts that his Government made in the field of human rights.

15. The initial Periodic Reports of the Republic South Africa, Burkina Faso and Chad were presented at the 25th Ordinary Session. Expressing satisfaction at the quality of the Reports submitted and the dialogue thus established, the Commission thanked the Representatives of the States concerned for their services and encouraged the said States to continue their efforts, to make the fulfilment of their obligations stated in the Charter a tangible reality.

16. The Republic of Seychelles deposited its initial Report since the 17th Ordinary Session held from 13 to 22 March, 1995 in Lome, Togo but still did not send anybody to present it despite the repeated reminders of the Commission. The latter deplored the negative attitude of Seychelles and had to adopt a Resolution (attached as Annex V to the Report) on this matter at the 251 Session.

17. The status of submission of Periodic Reports by the States is contained in Annex III attached to this Report.

18. The Commission strongly appeals to the States Parties that are still behind schedule with their Report to submit their Report as soon as possible and if necessary to compile all their Reports due into a single Report.

B. Promotion Activities

i) Report of the Chairman of the Commission

19. The Chairman of the Commission presented his Activity Report and particularly pointed out that he had participated in the Sixty?ninth Ordinary Session of the OAU Council of Ministers, 19 to 23 March, 1999, the First Ministerial Conference on Human Rights in Africa in Grand Bay, Mauritius, 12 to 16 April, 1999, the Second Conference of National Human Rights Institutions in Durban, South Africa, 1 to 3 July, 1998. He met with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and officials from other partner organizations of the Commission. The Chairman also met with the OAU Secretary?General, Ministers of various State parties and initiated contacts with the Governments of the Republic of Guinea and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania with regard to emergency situations. He also visited Mali following the demise of the late Alioune Blondin Beye and met with the family of the deceased and the authorities of the country.

ii) Activities of other members of the Commission

20. All the members of the Commission presented reports on human rights promotion and/or protection related activities which they carried out during the inter?sessions.

iii) Seminars and Conferences

21. The Commission was represented at the following meetings, seminars and conferences:

i) Seminar organized by the United Nations High Commission's

Office for Refugees (UNHCR) for officials of its offices in West
and Central Africa, on African mechanism for the protection of
human rights and the possibilities offered regarding the protection
of refugees (Dakar, Senegal 1 ? 4 December, 1998);

ii) Meeting of a Group of Experts on the strategy to be adopted regarding the speedy ratification of the

Protocol establishing the African Court of Human and Peoples' Rights, organized at the initiative of the International Commission of Jurists in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, from 7 to 9 December, 1998 under the auspices of the OAU Current Chairman, H.E. Mr. Blaise Compaore, President of Faso;

Meeting organized by the International Commission of Jurists on "Human Rights in Africa: challenges and prospects" as part of the activities marking the celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 17 ? 19 December, 1998);

Meeting with the partners of the Commission organized by SIDA in Lund, Sweden, from 11 to 13 January, 1999 to explore possible ways of strengthening the capacity of the African Commission;

v) Forum of NG0s to prepare the contribution to the meeting of the First Ministerial Conference on Human Rights in Africa (Nairobi, Kenya, 7 ? 9 April, 1999);

vi) First Ministerial Conference on Human Rights situation in Africa (Grand?Bay, Mauritius, 12 ? 16 April, 1999).


22. The Commission decided to organize the following seminars and conferences:

i) peaceful resolution of ethnic and social conflicts from the human rights perspectives;

ii) contemporary forms of slavery;

iii) right to education: a sine qua non for development. The Commission decided that the Seminar on popular participation and informal education should be included in the seminar on the right to education;

iv) Freedom of movement and right of asylum in Africa

v) Right to fair trial and legal assistance (Senegal, September 1999);,

vi) The rights of the disabled.

23. The Commission enlisted the support of the international organizations and NG0s in the organization of the above?mentioned seminars and conferences, and appointed commissioners to oversee the organization.


24. Commissioner Ben Salem Special Rapporteur on Extra?judicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions drew the Commission's attention to the new cases of extra?judicial executions in Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, the Comoros and Sierra Leone.

25. Commissioner Ben Salem presented a report to the 25th Ordinary Session on extra?judicial, summary and arbitrary executions in Rwanda, Burundi and Chad. The report makes mention of the difficulties encountered by the Special Rapporteur and the methodology used in the execution of his mandate.


26. Commissioner E.V.0 DANKWA, Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Conditions of Detention in Africa presented a succinct report on his missions to Kenya, Cameroon, Zimbabwe and Uganda.

27. The Special Rapporteur presented a report to the Twenty?fifth Ordinary Session in which he expressed satisfaction at the follow?up and evaluation mission to Mali.


28. Madam Julienne Ondziel?Gnelenga, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa, presented a preliminary report containing the proposed programme of activities, implementation strategies and draft budget.

29. She also presented a report on the activities she undertook within the purview of her mandate. She mentioned among other things the contacts she initiated to inform the various partners and mobilize the necessary resources for her activities.


30. Commissioner Dankwa presented a report on the work of the group charged to prepare the Additional Draft Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa. The Commission asked the group to continue its work.


31. With regard to the strategy to be adopted for the rapid ratification of the Additional Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights establishing the African Court of Human and Peoples' Rights, the Commission decided to continue with its efforts of sensitizing OAU Member States to the need to ratify the protocol as quickly as possible, and to involve the media in the campaign as well as all the actors who may contribute to its success.


32. The Commission decided to publish the mission reports on Mauritania together with the observations of the government.

33. The 25th Ordinary Session considered the report on the mission to Nigeria and decided to send it to that country for its observations and comments.


34. For some time now, the NG0s have been pondering on how best to coordinate their activities in Africa in order to enhance the work of the African Commission.

35. For the first time, the NG0s organized themselves into geographical groups covering West Africa, Central Africa, Southern Africa, East Africa and North Africa and presented their declarations on the human rights situation to the Twenty?fifth Ordinary Session. The declarations dealt with human rights violations in the respective four sub?regions.

36. They also highlighted extra?judicial summary and arbitrary executions, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, inhuman prison and detention conditions, restrictions and breach of fundamental freedoms, of the right to participation in the democratic process as a result of military coups d'Etat, forced disappearances, impunity, the situation of the vulnerable groups, women and children in particular etc... These human rights violations are compounded by armed conflicts that are proliferating on the continent.

37. The NG0s urged the Commission to react fast to incidences of human rights violation.

38. The Commission commended the NG0s for the rationalization and quality of their contribution to the deliberation.

39. The Commission adopted a resolution conferring on National Human Rights Institutions the status of affiliated bodies, and decided to pursue consideration on the possibility of strengthening its cooperation with these institutions.

40. The Commission also adopted a resolution on the criteria, for granting observer status to and enjoyment of same by the NG0s which had submitted a request in these regards.


41. A total of 114 complaints (eight (8) of which were new) were tabled before the Commission during its 24 , and 25th Ordinary Sessions. Six (6) of these communications were fully actioned. The decisions relating thereto are to be found in Annex V.


a) Administrative Matters

42. The Commission expressed satisfaction at the significant progress made
by its Secretariat in recent years. It commended the Secretary of the
Commission and his staff for the improved quality of the Secretariats' work
despite limited resources, and urged them not to relent in their endeavours.

43. The Commission expressed profound appreciation both for the measures already taken by the OAU Secretary?General, and for those he plans to take to give effect to the decisions of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the OAU, stipulating that the Commission be endowed with adequate financial, human and material resources to enable it function effectively.

44. The African Commission was also appreciative of the assistance provided by its partners, which made possible the implementation of a considerable part of its activities.

b) Financial Matters

1. OAU Budget

45. By virtue of Article 41 of the Charter, the functioning of the African Commission is ensured by the staff, facilities and services provided by Secretary?General of the OAU. Owing to the limited resources allocated to it by the OAU, the Commission had to have recourse to financial and material assistance from its partners.

2. Assistance from the African Society of Comparative International Law

46. With the assistance of the African Comparative International Law Society, the Secretariat secured the services of two (2) jurists for a period of one year. Publication of the Commissions Review was also ensured thanks to the technical assistance received from this society which was responsible for the publication's printing and distribution costs.

3. Assistance from the Danish Human Rights Centre

47. There has been notable improvement in the working conditions in the Secretariat thanks to the Danish assistance which made possible the recruitment of additional staff, procurement of computers with accessories and the funding of promotion activities such as documents production, and field missions by members of the Commission. The Danish Human Rights Centre is in the process of helping the Commission and its Commissioners with the planning of their activities and with the mobilization of resources for implementation of these activities. This assistance will last for three years.

4. Assistance from the European Union

48. The European Union made funds available to the Commission for, among other things, the production and dissemination of its documents and other human rights promotion activities throughout the Continent. The European Union has expressed readiness to continue providing this assistance.

5. Assistance from the United Nations Commission for Human Rights

49. The United Nations Human Rights Commission extended financial aid to the African Commission for the elaboration of the Draft Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, for the organization of seminars on the right to fair trial, the preparation of human rights training manuals, and for the organization of training courses for two officials of the Secretariat on the processing of communications and periodic reports submitted by States Parties to the African Charter. This assistance which covers a period of twelve (12) months became effective from 1 April, 1999.

6. Assistance from the Friedrich?Naurnann Foundation

50. The Friendrich?Naurnan Foundation has continued to undertake measures to mobilize resources in favour of the Commission, especially at the level of the European Union and other European partners.

7. Assistance from the Raoul Wallenberg Institute

51. Publication of the Commission's Review has been realised up to now, thanks to the grants accorded by the Swedish Government through the Raoul Wallenberg Institute. Promotion missions to States Parties are also catered for under this grant subject to the limits of the budget provided.

8. International Commission of Jurists

52. The International Commission of Jurists has continued to provide the African Commission with assistance towards implementation of numerous activities such as the elaboration of the Draft Protocol on the Rights of Women, a studies pertaining to strategies for speedy ratification of the Protocol on the African Court on human and Peoples' Rights, assistance to the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women, etc...

9. Other Partners

53. The Commission was beneficiary of various firms of assistance from several partners, both African and non?African thus enabling it, with sizeable degree of success to discharge its human and peoples' rights promotion and protection mission on the Continent.

54. The Commission plans to Further strength this cooperation.


55. The Assembly of Heads of State and Government, after consideration, adopted the report by a resolution in which it expressed satisfaction at the Report and authorized its publication.


Annex I: List of the Countries that have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (as of 31 March, 1999). (10)

Annex II: Agenda of the Twenty-fourth Ordinary Session (Banjul, The Gambia: 23 - 31 October, 1998). (12)

Agenda of the Twenty-fifth Ordinary Session (Bujumbura, Burundi: 26 April - 5 May, 1999).

Annex III: Status of Submission of Periodic Reports to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (as of 31 May, 1999). (16)

Annex IV: Resolutions adopted by the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Ordinary Sessions. (25)

Annex V: Decisions on Communications. (48)

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