2nd Extra-Ordinary Session of the African Commission on
Human and Peoples' Rights, 18th-19th December, 1995 Kampala, Uganda
The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights held its
second extraordinary session from the 18th - 19th December 1995 in
Kampala (Uganda) under the Chairmanship of Professor Isaac Nguema
and centred principally on the examination of the human rights
situation in Nigeria.
Present at the session were the following commissioners:
- Prof. Isaac Nguema - Chairman
- Prof. Emmanuel V.O. Dankwa - Vice Chairman
- Dr. Hatem Ben Salem
- Mr. Atsu Koffi Amega
- Justice Robert-Habesh Kisanga
- Mr. Kamel Rezzag-Bara
- Mrs. Julienne Ondziel-Gnelenga
Absent with apology:
- Mr. Alioune Blondin Beye
- Mr. Youssoupha Ndiaye
- Mrs. Vera Duarte Martins
- Prof. O. Umozurike
The opening ceremony was held on 19 December, 1995 at 9:30AM at
the International Conference Centre - Kampala in the presence of
Honourable Ruhakana Rugunda, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uganda,
Col. Kahinda Ottafire, Chairman of the Pan-African Movement and
Mrs. Tokumbo Ige, representative of the Secretary General of the
International Commission of Jurists.
Also present were official representatives of the Federal
Republic Government of Nigeria, led by His Excellency the High
Commissioner of Nigeria to Uganda, Ambassadors and Heads of
Diplomatic Missions accredited to Uganda, representatives of inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, representatives
from the Press and invited guests.
The formal opening session was marked by a welcome address by
Prof. Isaac Nguema, Chairman of the African Commission on Human and
Peoples' Rights who asked the audience to observe a moment of
silence in memory of the late Grace Ibingira, former member of the
Commission who died recently.
The floor was given to Col. Kahinda Ottafire, Chairman of the
Pan-African Movement, who recalled briefly the history of the
movement whose evolution is linked to the long struggle of the
African continent against colonialism, apartheid and exploitation.
Talking about the situation of human rights in Africa, the Speaker
insisted on the necessity of holding frank and open discussions
concerning the sovereignty of states and peoples' freedom.
On behalf of the Secretary General of the International
Commission of Jurists, Mrs.. Tokumbo Ige, Legal Officer for Africa
delivered a message expressing the support of the International
Commission of Jurists to the holding of this extra-ordinary session
centred on the examination of the human rights situation in
Talking about the continuing serious violation of human rights in
Nigeria, Mrs. Tokumbo Ige recalled the decisions taken to that
effect by Commonwealth states, the European Community and the UN
and wished that the African Commission use all legal means at its
disposal to help improve the human rights situation in that country
in order to restore democracy and god governance.
In his opening remarks Prof. Isaac Nguema, Chairman of the
African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights recalled the
emotion expressed by African and world opinion leaders towards the
execution of playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa and his 8 comrades of the
Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People. Talking about some
burning events concerning the human rights situation in Africa,
Prof. I. Nguema indicated that the extra-ordinary session should
give the continent the occasion to express itself of the modalities
to develop in the framework of the principles of universality and
indivisibility of human rights.
Honourable Ruhakana Rugunda, Ugandan Minister of Foreign
Affairs delivered a message in which he recalled the mandate of the
African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights in the protection
and promotion of human rights. Observing that the African
continent had never accorded enough attention to this issue, the
Minister regretted the persistent political tensions in Africa
principally due to the absence of democracy and good governance.
On the major focus of the holding of the extra-ordinary session,
the Minister indicated that his Government had condemned recent
events which took place in Nigeria regarding human rights
violations and recalled that the Commissions attention should
equally spread to other regions of the continent where gross
violations take place and wished that through dialogue, we can
establish peace and stability in Africa.
The Commission adopted the following agenda:
1. Opening ceremony
2. Adoption of the agenda
3. Organisation of proceedings
4. State of human rights in Nigeria.
5. Examination of practical measures to take faced with the prevailing situation in Nigeria.
- Summary and arbitrary executions
- Compatibility between internal legislation in Nigeria and certain articles of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.
6. Examination of certain urgent situations concerning human rights in Africa, notably in Burundi.
7. Adoption of the Session report
8. Closing ceremony.
The Commission nominated Commissioner Kisanga rapporteur of
the session and Commissioner Rezzag-Bara to write the final
In the course of the afternoon session on the 18th December
1995, His Excellency the Ambassador Ahmed Haggag, Assistant
Secretary General of the OAU delivered a message on behalf of the
Secretary General, indicating the preoccupation of the continental
organisation on the situation of human rights in Nigeria. He
recalled the recent visit undertaken by His Excellency Salim Ahmed
Salim, Secretary General of the OAU in Nigeria, as well as the
Special Summit held in Pretoria by SADC member states. Ambassador
A. Haggag indicated that the OAU intends to do everything possible
to give Nigeria all the help it needs in order to diffuse the
crisis now shaking Nigeria, and to apply the transitional programme
towards democracy, as announced by the Federal Government of
Nigeria on the 1st October 1995.
The Commission heard in presence of the official delegation of
the Nigerian Government interventions from non-governmental
organisations on human rights violations in Nigeria.
The Nigerian High Commissioner to Uganda, on behalf of the
Nigerian Government, also addressed the Commission. He insisted on
the promise made by the Nigerian authorities to start off from 1st
October 1995 a transitional programme towards a civil and
Emphasizing the will of the Nigerian Government to cooperate with
the Commission, the Nigerian delegation promised to submit a
written response to all the concerns expressed during the action
before the Commission's 19th Ordinary Session. He also drew the
Commission's attention to slanderous campaigns against Nigeria on
the issue of human rights by assuring the Commission that it was
hounouring its international obligations and legal principles as
well as the rule of law.
The Nigerian Delegation extended an invitation to the Commission to
pay them a visit during the month of February 1996.
A fruitful exchange was established between members of the
Commission and Nigeria's Government representatives on major
preoccupations of which the forthcoming trial of the "19 Ogoni
people" and the compatibility of the Nigerian legislation with the
provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights were
the major issues discussed.
The members of the Commission expressed their serious concern on th
situation of human rights in Nigeria and their worry on measures
which could aggravate the situation.
At the end of its deliberations, the Commission decided to
take the following practical measures concerning the situation of
human rights in Nigeria.
- Taking note of the readiness and will of the Nigerian Government cooperation, the Commission decided to ask the current President of OAU and the Secretary General to express to the Nigerian Authorities that no irreparable prejudice is caused to the 19 Ogoni detainees whose trial is pending.
- In order to intensify the dialogue between the Commission and the Nigerian Authorities, a delegation composed of the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and the Special Rapporteur on summary and arbitrary executions shall undertake a mission to Nigeria from 16 to 21 February 1996.
- The report of the extraordinary session shall be submitted to the Current Chairman of the OAU, the United Nations Secretary General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
- The Commission shall write a statement to the UN Commission on Human Rights during its next session on the evolution of the situation of human rights in Nigeria in light of the results of its extraordinary session and its proposed mission.
- During its 19th session, the Commission will consider the mission's report on the human rights situation in Nigeria as well as the Special Rapporteur's report on summary and arbitrary executions.
The Commission invites the Government of Nigeria to submit in conformity with article 62 of the Charter, its periodic report on the measures taken to ensure compliance with the rights and liberties recognised and guaranteed in the Charter, relevant past resolutions and decisions of the Commission as well as with the provisions of the Charter, relating to the independence of the Judiciary, the safety of persons and property, the freedom of opinion and expression and social rights of workers.
- The Commission heard a Communication on the prevailing situation in
Burundi where armed bandits cause permanent insecurity provoking
assassinations and massive displacement of the civilian population.
The Commission's attention was drawn to the urgent need to assist
in improving the judicial system, prison administration and the
national reconciliation process.
The debate that followed allowed the Commission to express its
fears on the rapid deterioration of the situation in Burundi. This
issue will be further considered at the 19th session.
In the light of the human rights situation in Africa, the
Commission decided to analyze in depth the idea of putting into
place an early warning mechanism in case of emergencies and called
upon the NGO community to render assistance in that field.
The closing ceremony took place on the 19 December 1995 at the
International Conference Centre in Kampala, Uganda in the presence
of Hon. Joseph Ekemu, Minister of Justice of Uganda who addressed
Done in Kampala, 20 December 1995
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