10th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, 8 - 15 October 1991 Banjul, The Gambia


1. The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights held its 10th Ordinary Session in Banjul, The Gambia, from 8-15 October 1991 under the Chairmanship of Dr. Ibrahim Ali Badawi El Sheikh.

2. The session coincided with the 10th Anniversary of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights adoption, in Nairobi, in June 1981, by the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the OAU and with the 4th Anniversary of the installation of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights on 2nd November 1987.

3. The session was attended by the following members:

i) Dr. Ibrahim Ali Badawi El Sheikh

ii) Mr. Alioune Blondin Bèye

iii) Mr. Ali Mahmoud Buhedma

iv) Mr. Robert Habesh Kisanga

v) Mr. Moleleki D. Mokama

vi) Mr. Sourahata B. Semega Janneh

vii) Mr. Chama L.C. Mubanga-Chipoya

viii) Prof. Isaac Nguema

ix) Prof. U.O. Umozurike

4. The opening was presided over by Prof. Umozurike, the outgoing Chairman of the Commission and His Excellency, the President of the Republic of The Gambia was represented by the Honourable Hassan B. Jallow, Attorney General and Minister of Justice.

5. After the welcome address by Professor Umozurike other speeches were made by:

The Honourable Hassan B. Jallow, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice representing the President of the Republic of The Gambia.

6. In his Statement the Honourable Hassan B. Jallow assured the Commission of the enduring commitment of the Gambian government to the facilitation of the work of the Commission by providing the necessary assistance to enable it achieve its objectives.

7. On commencement of their formal deliberations, the recently reelected members of the Commission, at the 27th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, took their oath of office. The newly re-elected members are:

Mr. Robert Hababesh Kisanga

Mr. Chama L.C. Mubanga-Chipoya

Prof. U.O. Umozurike

8. Following the expiry of the two year term of office for Umozurike and Gabou elected on 24th November 1989 as Chairman and Vice-Chairman, respectively, the Commission in conformity with Rule 17 of the Rules of Procedure elected as Chairman: Dr. Ibrahim Ali El-Sheikh and as Vice-Chairman: Mr. Chama L.C. Mubanga-Chipoya.

9. The Commission deliberated, in particular, on the following topics:

i) Observers

a. Requests for observer status;

b. Consideration of the conclusions of the workshop organized by the ICJ and the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights on NGO participation in the work of the African Commission.

ii) Matters arising from the preceding session:

a. Report of the Chairman;

b. Reports of the members of the Commission;

c. Report of the Secretary.

iii) Activities of the Commission:

a. Protective activities

b. Promotional Activities

iv) Consideration of Periodic Reports.

v) Report of the consultants on the Programme of Activities.

vi) Consideration of the Rules of Procedure.

vii) Report of the activities of the OAU relevant to the Commission

viii) Date, venue and agenda of the 11th Session.

ix) Adoption of the report of the 10th Session.

x) Final Communique.

10. Following consideration of their requests the Commission granted observer status to the following NGOs;

1. International Human Rights Law Group;

2. Minnesota Lawyers International Human Rights Committee;

3. Fédération internationale de l'action des chrétiens pour l'abolition de la torture (FIACAT);

4. African Union of Lawyers;

5. Groupe d'étude et de recherche sur la démocratie et le développement économique et social;

6. Anti-Slavery International for the Protection of Human Rights;

7. Congressional Human Rights Foundation;

8. La Ligue ivoirienne des droits de l'homme;

9. L'Association des juristes africains (AJA);

10. L'Association pour la promotion de l'Etat de droit (APED);

11. Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme (RADHO);

12. The Decade of Human Rights Education , INC (DHRE);

13. Marangopoulos Foundation for Human Rights (MFHR);

14. Legal Research and Resource Development Centre;

15. Organization mondiale contre la torture;

16. International Service for Human Rights;

17. International League for Human Rights;

18. L'Association nationale des droits de l'homme (Gabon).

The following were given observer status subject to their presentation of their basic documents:

African Bar Association

Ligue centrafricaine des droits de l'homme

11. On obtaining observer status the NGOs expressed gratitude to the Commission and reaffirmed their respective commitment to the promotion and protection of Human Rights in Africa.

12. The commission learned from the Statement of the Chairman of the Inter-American Commission who cited examples of measures which the African Commission could utilize to enhance its own performance. Measures such as, inter alia, possibility of carrying out investigations in States Parties; the possibility of undertaking actions and adopting interim measures in order to avoid irreparable prejudice to victims of human rights violations; measures to be taken to counter delaying tactics used by some member States to impede settlement of cases presented to the Commission; and, the possibility of visiting prisons, preparing special reports on human rights situations in a given country and exempting indigent complaints from stipulations governing the exhaustion of local procedures.

13. On the role of the Commission and the NGOs in the discharge of their protective and promotional functions the NGOs emphasized:

the need for members of the Commission to enjoy full diplomatic immunity while engaged in these activities even in their own countries;

the need to simplify the rules of procedure resulting in the reduction of delays in settling communications thereby enabling the Commission to intervene with greater efficiency in emergency situations;

the need for the Commission to act with greater audacity in carrying out its assigned functions;

the need for NGOs working hand in hand with the members of the Commission in order to address the difficulties which might arise from the execution of these functions;

the need to improve the effectiveness of the Secretariat of the Commission by developing dynamic methods in discharging its functions and making maximum use of the efforts of the members of the Commission.

14. The newly elected Chairman, Dr. Badawi El Sheikh, the Commissioners and the Secretary-General submitted their reports on their respective activities in the inter session period. The fruitful discussions on these reports led to various observations and suggestions.

15. The Commissioners agreed to a reorganization of the list of countries for each member for the purpose of their direct promotion and protection activities in these countries; an exercise first enunciated at the 8th ordinary session.

16. The continuing decline of the resources allocated to the Commission by the OAU, brought about by the difficulties encountered by the OAU in recovering the total amount of budget contributions, remains a source of great worry to the Commission. In this regard the Commission received with gratitude grants from Organizations such as:

UN Centre for Human Rights;




The Raoul Wallemberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.

17. The Commission appointed a Commissioner to work out ways of systematic utilization of the funds made available to it and to establish an appropriate and reliable machinery for hiring personnel to help it acquire equipment for use at its headquarters and whenever it might hold its sessions. Another Commissioner was requested to indicate additional ways in which the DANIDA Fund could be put towards the efficient fulfilment of its promotional activities.

18. Among other seminars and discussions the members of the Commission may hold or attend in their promotional activities, the Commission decided to send a representative to the seminar to be held from 29 November to 2nd December 1991 in Tunis organized by the Arab Institute for Human Rights and the Tunisian League for Defence of Human Rights on Criminal Law and Penal Reform, who are to provide lodging and boarding free of charge.

19. With regard to the protective activities, the Commission considered complaints other than those of States Parties, namely:

cases already declared admissible;

new cases.

20. Concerning the new cases presented to the Commission for consideration, in accordance with Article 55 of the Charter, the Commission considered 18 new communications and made the following decisions:

For 15 of these cases, the communications must be brought to the knowledge of the State concerned and its author should be requested to indicate whether all local remedies have been exhausted. For 2 cases, the Commission should refer the matter to the current Chairman of the OAU, in conformity with Article 58 paragraph 3 of the Charter. For one of the cases the Commission decided to request the State concerned for a temporary suspension of the measures envisaged.

21. Regarding cases already declared admissible, the Commission considered 7 communications which have been settled in a satisfactory manner, and closed the dossiers.

22. The subject of revising the Rules of Procedure was also tackled and a Commissioner appointed to consolidate the amendments have been made for a full debate on the matter at the coming 11th session.

23. Mindful of the need to monitor the human and people's rights situation in the States Parties and to establish a dialogue with them, the Commission vigorously tackled the matter of periodic reports from States. The Commission formally directed a number of questions to the States concerned in an effort to lay out a foundation on which to build this work according to Guidelines already prepared. It has also been indicated to the States concerned on which dates their reports would be considered at the next session.

24. Ever mindful of the situation of apartheid in South Africa, and since the Commission has received reports of the continuing violence in that country, and noting with sadness from these reports that much of the violence appears to be sponsored, encouraged or supported by certain elements of the Government. And following the recent signing of the National Peace Accord by Organizations including the African National Congress, the Inkhata Freedom Party and the South African government, intended to end this violence.

The Commission:

a. Condemns the use of violence in South Africa to settle disputes by anybody in South Africa and in particular the recent massacre of 18 people in Thokoza near Johannesburg.

b. Appeals to the government to fully comply with its undertakings under the National Peace Accord.

c. Calls on the government to accede to the demands of the majority of South Africans for the establishment of an interim government and a constituent assembly.

d. In keeping with the preamble of the Charter of the Organization of African Unity requiring total commitment to the elimination of apartheid, calls upon the Heads of State of the OAU to consider carefully the human rights conditions prevailing in South Africa.

25. The Commission decided to hold its 11th session from 2 to 9 March 1992 in a venue which will be announced and that, in future, ordinary sessions will be held during the first half of March and the second half of October each year.

26. The Commission decided on the agenda of the 11th session copy of which is attached.

Done in Banjul,

15 October 1991

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