17th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, 12 - 22 March 1995 Lome, Togo


1. The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights held its 17th Ordinary Session in Lome, Togo upon the invitation of the Togolese government from 13 - 22 March 1995 under the chairmanship of Prof. Isaac Nguema.

2. The Session was preceded by a seminar on the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and the human rights of women in Africa, organized by the African Commission in collaboration with WILDAF (Women in Law and Development); as well as the eighth workshop on NGO participation in the work of the African Commission, organized by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in collaboration with the African Commission and l'Association pour la Promotion de l'Etat de Droit (APED).

3. The following Commissioners attended the Session:

i. Prof. Isaac Nguema, Chairman

ii. Dr. Mohammed H. Ben Salem, Vice Chairman

iii. Mr. Atsu Koffi Amega

iv. Dr. Ibrahim Ali Badawi

v. Prof. Emmanuel V. O Dankwa

vi. Ms. Vera Valentina B. S. Duarte Martins

vii. Mr. Sourahata B. S Janneh

viii. Mr. Robert H. Kisanga

ix. Prof. U. Oji Umozurike

4. Mr. Alioune Beye, Mr. Atsu Koffi Amega and Mr. Yousoupha Ndiaye could not attend and sent their apologies.

5. The opening ceremony began at 10.00 a.m. on 13th March 1995 at the 2 Février Sofitel Hotel in the presence of the honourable Djovi Gally, Minister for Human Rights and Rehabilitation responsible for Parliamentary Affairs of the Republic of Togo, representing the Prime Minister of the Republic; Mr. Dougan Beaca Jose Domingo, representing the Under Secretary General of the United Nations Centre for Human Rights; and Mr. Adama Dieng, Secretary General of the International Commission of Jurists.

6. Also present were:

- Ambassadors and Heads of diplomatic missions;

- Officials of the Togolese government

- Delegates of States parties to the African Charter

- Representatives of inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations;

- Members of the press

- Other guests

7. Mr. Dougan Becca, Mr. Adama Dieng, Prof. Isaac Nguema and the Hon. Djovi Gally addressed the opening ceremony.

8. In his address, Mr. Becca assured the African Commission of the United Nations' commitment to support the Commission in carrying out its mandate.

9. In his address, Mr. Adama Dieng referred to the financial difficulties of the African Commission and assured the Commission of the ICJ's commitment to support the Commission in carrying out its functions. Mr. Dieng informed the Commission that the ICJ will sponsor an African lawyer to work at the Commission's Secretariat.

10. Mr. Dieng congratulated the governments of Togo and Senegal for accepting the Commission's request to conduct on cite investigations in their countries, but expressed disappointment to Mauritania and Sudan for not co-operating with the Commission in this respect.

11. Mr. Dieng referred to the need to create peace in Africa as well as the importance of strengthening the independence of the judiciary. The ICJ Secretary General also stated that those who commit serious breaches of human rights are often not brought to justice and noted the importance of addressing the problem of impunity.

12. In his address, Prof. Isaac Nguema thanked the ICJ for its commitment to attach a lawyer to the Commission's Secretariat. He discussed the origins of various problems facing Africa including ethnic and religious conflicts and the crimes that accompany military take-overs. Prof. Nguema also stressed the need to find an African solution to African problems.

13. In his address, the Hon. Djovi Gally stated that Togo is committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and noted that the country's Constitution incorporates the principles enshrined in international human rights treaties.

14. Mr. Gally stated that the African Charter should be seen as the Constitution of Africa. He referred to the various problems facing Africa and emphasized the necessity of education for the development of a democratic society.

15. During its proceedings, the Commission dealt mainly with the following:

i. Adoption of the Report of the 16th Session

ii. Consideration of applications for observer status

iii. Examination of extra-judicial executions

iv. Implementation of Resolution AHG/Res. 230 (XXX) on the creation of an African Court on Human and People's Rights

v. Penal Reform

vi. Report of the Seminar on Women in Africa and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights

vii. Information on the Regional Preparatory Conference for the 4th World Conference on Women.

viii. Administrative and financial matters

ix. Consideration of communications

16. The following non-governmental organizations were granted observer status:

i. Angolan Association of Human Rights

ii. Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems (HURIDOCS)

iii. Women Justice Programs

iv. World Associations for Orphans and Abandoned Children

v. African Committee for Law and Development

vi. Mauritanian Association for Human Rights

vi. Mauritanian Movement for Human Rights

viii. SOS Slavery, Mauritania

x. Study and Research Group on Democracy and Social Development in Mauritania

xi. Human Rights Society, The Gambia

xii. FIDA (Ouganda)

xiii. Liberia Human Rights Chapter

17. The granting of observer status to the following organizations was postponed pending receipt of additional information:

i. Initiative and Development in Africa

ii. African League of Human and Peoples' Rights.

iii. Association of Progress and Defence of Malian Women

iv. International Movement for Development in Africa

v. Human Rights Defence Association for Peace in Central and Southern Africa

vi. African Institute for Democracy

18. The granting of observer status to the 13 NGOs increases the number of non governmental organizations which have observer status with the African Commission.

19. Representatives of the States of Algeria, Botswana, Burundi, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Mali and Togo attended the Session.

20. The representatives of Algeria, Burkina Faso and Mali addressed the Commission and informed the Commission of their country's intention to present their State reports.

21. The Commission heard the statements from several African and International NGOs including:

1. Mr. Ahmed Motala, Lawyers for Human Rights

2. M. Alioune Tine, Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme

3. M. Atondoko Guillaume Ngefa, AZADHO

4. Mr. Salem Mezhoud, Anti Slavery International

5. Mrs. Tokunbo Ige, International Commission of Jurists

6. M. Jean Berckimans Kaburumdi, Ligue Burundaise des Droits de l'Homme (ITEKA)

7. Mr. Chidi Odinkalu, Interights

8. Mrs. Gloria Scott, Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia

9. Mme Marguerite Contat, Comité International de la Croix Rouge (CICR)

10. Mr. Nicholas Howen, Amnesty International

11. M. Jean-François Basse, Observatoire International des Prisons

12. M. Agokla Mawuli, Defense of Children International

13. Mr. Clement Nwankwo, Constitutional Rights Project of Nigeria

14. Mr. Mohammed Moneib Genedy, Egyptian Organization for Human Rights

15. M. Ahmed Othmani, Penal Reform International (PRI)

22. Mrs. Tokunbo Ige presented the Conclusions and Recommendations of the NGO workshop. In particular, the Conclusions and Recommendations call on the African Commission to appoint a Special Rapporteur on Prison Conditions in Africa and to conduct a study on the implementation of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Africa. Furthermore, the Conclusions and recommendations noted with regret the existence of systematic and gross violations of human rights in a number of African countries and called on NGOs, African States and the people of Africa to say "No to impunity, Yes to Justice."

23. The Commission notes with regret that the State reports of Mozambique, Mauritius and Seychelles could not be considered as scheduled because the States did not send their representatives to discuss the reports with the Commission.

24. The purpose of State reports is to encourage States to implement voluntarily their human rights obligations. States parties are urged to ensure that their representatives are present to discuss their reports with the Commission.

25. Members of the Commission presented reports on promotional activities which they undertook during the inter-sessional period.

26. The purpose of promotional activities is to increase public awareness on human rights in Africa.

27. The Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions presented revised terms of reference from the Commission and NGOs. After consideration, the Commission adopted the terms of reference presented by the Special Rapporteur.

28. The Commission's Secretary informed the Commission that the OAU Secretary General in consultation with member states and the ICJ will convene a meeting of experts in May 1995 regarding the establishment of an African Human Rights Court.

29. The Commission considered the question of penal reform and prison condition in Africa and decided to appoint a Special Rapporteur on the subject. The Commission also decided to organize a seminar on penal reform in collaboration with Penal Reform International.

30. Commissioner Vera Valentina B. S. Duarte Martins presented the Conclusions and Recommendations on the seminar on Women and the African Charter. The main recommendations are as follows: an additional protocol on the rights of women should be prepared; and the OAU should be urged to appoint a Special Rapporteur on Women.

31. The Commission entrusted two of his members, Mme. Duarte and Prof. Dankwa to initiate work on an additional protocol on the rights of Women. However, the Commission did not accept the recommendation to appoint a Special Rapporteur on Women.

32. The Commission reiterated its decision to organize the following seminars: 1) The Right to Fair Trial and Legal Assistance; 2) Popular Participation and Non-formal Education; and 3) Human Rights in a New South Africa.

33. The Commission also decided to organize the following seminars: 1) Contemporary Forms of Slavery in Africa; 2) Peaceful Resolution of Ethnic and Social Conflicts; 3) The Right to Education as an Essential Condition for Development in Africa; 4) Freedom of Movement and the right to Asylum; and 5) the Problem of Impunity in Africa.

34. The Commission reconsidered and adopted resolutions previously adopted at its 16th Session. These are resolutions on the Gambia, Nigeria, Rwanda, the Military, Contemporary Forms of Slavery and the Human Rights Situation in Africa.

35. The Commission withdrew its 16th Session resolution on Algeria.

36. The Commission also adopted new resolutions on Sudan, the Gambia, Nigeria and land mines.

37. With respect to its prospective activities, the Commission had before it 53 old communications and 1 new communication. The status of the communications is as follows:

i. Communications decided on the merits 3

ii. Communications declared admissible 8

iii. Communications declared inadmissible 4

iv. Cases in which the Commission decided to send missions to the States concerned 23

v. Cases in which decisions were deferred pending receipt of additional information 10

vi. Cases in which the Commission is to effect settlement 2

vii. Cases in which the file was closed 4

38. During this Session, the Commission was received in audience by the President of the Republic of Togo.

39. The closing ceremony was addressed by his Excellency, Edem Kodjo, Prime Minister of the Republic of Togo.

40. The Commission calls on Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, Côte-d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Namibia, Niger, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Sao Tome & Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Zaire and Zambia to submit their initial State reports as soon as possible.

41. The Commission calls on Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Africa and Swaziland to ratify the African Charter as soon as possible.

42. The Commission decided to hold its 18th Ordinary Session in Cape Verde from 6-15 October 1995.

Issued in Lome, Togo,

22 March 1995

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