1. The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights held its 12th Ordinary Session from 12 to 21 October 1992 in Banjul, The Gambia.
2. This Session was preceded by the meeting of a workshop jointly organized in The Gambia from 9-11 October 1992 by the International Commission of Jurists and the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies on the following themes:
i) the need to revise the rules of procedure of the Commission;
ii) the need to formulate guidelines on the exhaustion of national remedies
iii) the right to development
iv) the rights of women especially the appointment of women commissioners.
3. This Session was attended by the following Commissioners:
Dr. Ibrahim A. Badawi El-Sheikh, Chairman
Mr. Sourahata B.S. Janneh, Vice Chairman
Mr. Ali Mahmoud Buhedma
Justice Robert Habesh Kisanga
Mr. Youssoupha Ndiaye
Mr. Isaac Nguema
Professor U.O. Umozuriki
Dr. Mohammed H. Ben Salem
4. The Commission observed a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the civil war, internal conflicts, drought and famine raging in Ethiopia and many other parts of Africa and the martyrs of acts of violence in South Africa. During its third sitting, the members of the Commission and NGO representatives also observed a minute's silence in memory of the victims of the earthquake which struck Egypt the previous day.
5. The opening Session was held on 12 October 1992 at 10 a.m. at the Kombo Beach Hotel Novotel in the presence of His Excellency the Honourable Hassan Jallow, Minister of Justice of the Gambia and the following dignitaries:
Ambassadors and Heads of Diplomatic Missions;
Representatives of International and African NGOs;
Representatives of the press and other invitees.
6. In his introductory speech, Dr. Badawi El-Sheikh Stated that the Commission is confronted with the task of addressing the serious human rights situation in Africa. Furthermore, the Chairman Stated that the OAU has demonstrated its willingness to promote and protect rights by its Resolution on the African Commission adopted at its 28th Ordinary Session held in Dakar, Senegal. In his speech, Dr. Badawi noted that the Commission is facing a certain number of constraints such as an inadequate secretariat and limited financial resources. The Commission has, however, managed to attain some of its objectives.
The Honourable Hassan Jallow paid tribute to the Commission for its achievements. He Stated that in spite of the difficulties encountered, the Commission has managed to accomplish some of its objectives. He underscored the commitment of His Excellency Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara to support the Commission both at the national level and at the level of the OAU. In this regard, the Minister informed the Commission that the Gambia government was in the process of establishing contacts with other friendly countries to initiate amendments to the Charter.
7. The proceedings of the Commission mainly focused on five major issues, viz:
1. adoption of a programme;
2. consideration of periodic reports;
3. consideration of complaints;
4. administrative and financial matters;
5. consideration of the right to development.
8. At the beginning of its proceedings, the Commission heard, on the one hand, a certain number of Statements and, on the other hand, the conclusions of the workshop organized by the forum of NGOs before the session.
9. In their interventions, the representatives of Governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations underscored the resolve of their Organizations to help and assist in the functioning of the Commission to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa. These were the essence and thrust of the Statements made notably by:
Mr. Christopher Hall of Amnesty International;
Mr. Salim A. Salim of the Libyan Arab League
Mrs. Iris Almeida, of the International Centre for Human Rights and the Development of Democracy
Dr. Amin M. Medani of the Sudan Human Rights Organization
Salem Mezhoud of Anti-Slavery International
Dr. Tunji Abayoumi of Human Rights Africa
Dr. S. Gutto of Network on Integrated Human Rights in Africa (NARIHRA).
10. In presenting the report of the workshop organized by the International Commission of Jurists and the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, Mrs. Mona Rishmawi and Dr. Philip Amoah of the ICJ thanked the Commission for accepting its offer to explore ways of initiating a preliminary study on the question of women's rights. For her part, Mrs. Mona Rishmawi Stated that NARIHRA will consult women's organizations and NGOs with observer status with the Commission in carrying out the exercise. The Commission was also requested to look into the problem of structural adjustment and to organize a seminar on the subject. The meeting was also informed that the ICJ will conduct a preliminary investigations on the subject and make proposals to the Commission. The representative of Amnesty International reported on the measures adopted by his organization to assist the Commission in the discharge of its functions.
11. Dealing with its programme of action and New Methods of Work, the Commission drew up a calendar of seminars and symposia it intends to organize either on its own or jointly with other international organizations. In this regard, the Commission, reiterated its will to organize:
i) A seminar on "How the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights has been received in the Legal Systems of States Parties to the African Charter" (Banjul from 26 to 30 October 1992);
ii) A seminar on the role of the African media in the promotion and protection of human rights (Tunis from 31st October to 1st January 1992);
iii) A seminar on African refugees and internally displaced persons;
iv) A seminar on popular participation and informal education;
v) A seminar on post-apartheid South Africa (early January 1993);
vi) A seminar on the right to fair trial;
vii) A seminar on the role of women under the African Charter;
viii) A meeting of the inter-sessional working group of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (Banjul, mid-January 1993);
Regarding its methods of work, the Commission decided as follows:
adoption of an organizational chart for the Secretariat and the need to recruit the necessary staff;
the publication of the fifth annual activity report of the Commission and the second edition of the Review of the Commission;
the publication of annual reports and other documents of the Commission including the periodic report.
12. During its deliberations, the Commission examined the periodic reports submitted by the Republic of Senegal (initial report and report nº1), the Republic of Zimbabwe (initial report) and the Republic of The Gambia (initial report).
13. The Commission expressed satisfaction at the usefulness and relevance of the constructive dialogue established between the Commission and States concerned and thanked the Government of the Republic of Senegal, the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Republic of The Gambia for their reports and their willingness to cooperate with the Commission .
14. It appealed to States who have not yet submitted their reports to do so as soon as possible.
15. Regarding complaints pertaining to allegations of human rights violations in some African countries, examined 34 old communications and 20 new communications. After taking the appropriate decisions in each case the Commission deplored the administrative delays encountered in the consideration of complaints.
16. Under promotional activities, the Commission received the report of Commissioner Ndiaye on the mission sent to Mali to monitor the presidential elections. This mission was a success and the elections were free and fair.
17. The Chairman also informed the Commission that its annual report was well received by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the OAU. In this regard, the Assembly adopted a resolution requesting that the Commission be provided with the requisite resources for the implementation of its programme of activities (AHG/Res. 207 (XXXVII).
18. The Commission learnt with consternation of the death of Mr. Orton Chirwa whilst in detention together with his wife for their political beliefs.
The Commission recalls that this regrettable incident occurred whilst it had been seized with this case and one of its members was carrying out on-the-spot investigations.
The Commission expresses to the family of the deceased its most profound sympathy and reiterates its grave concern about the fate of the spouse who is still in detention.
19. On the last day of its session the Commission noted with dismay the recent mass expulsion of Nigerian nationals living in Gabon. The Commission reminds States Parties to the Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights that these measures coming in the wake of others taken recently constitute a flagrant violation of the relevant provisions of Article 12 paragraph 5 which expressly stipulates as follows:
"The mass expulsion of non-nationals shall be prohibited. Mass expulsion shall be that which is aimed at national, racial, ethnic or religious groups".
20. As regards the venue of the 13th Session, the Commission agreed to wait until the end of December for the response of the Government of Botswana. Otherwise the 13th Session will be held in Banjul during the first fortnight of April 1993.
Done in Banjul,
21 October 1992.
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