Great steps forward, great misses

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member and partner organisations in Algeria, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Tunisia, participated in the the 42nd ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and in its preceding NGO Forum, held in Brazzaville from 10 to 28 November 2007.

FIDH welcomes the adoption by the ACHPR of 18 resolutions, notably on the upcoming elections and the situation of freedom of expression in Zimbabwe. The ACHPR also adopted resolutions on other important issues such as migrations and human rights in Africa, responsibility to protect, sexual violences, human rights defenders, ratification of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance as well as on indigenous populations and communities in Africa.

FIDH and its member and partner organisations, which have struggled to promote these thematics before the ACHPR, consider that with these resolutions, the ACHPR has made for the first time a step forward on these African sensitive issues.

The ACHPR considered the report submitted by Algeria, Rwanda and Tunisia. FIDH and its member and partner organisations, the Collectif de familles de disparus en Algérie and the Ligue tunisienne des droits de l’Homme (LTDH), provided the ACHPR with alternative reports and information notes on the situation of human rights in these countries. These information helped the Commissioners to ask questions to the states representatives on the freedom of association, of expression, on the judiciary system, on the situation of women’s rights and on human rights defenders.

The Commissioners focused particularly on the consequences of the Algerian Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation on the families of disappeared people and on human rights defenders. The Commissioners also focused on the freedom of association and expression of independent organisations from the civil society in Tunisia and on the judicial system in Rwanda.

FIDH noticed the quality of the debates when the ACHPR considered States’ respect of the rights guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Nevertheless, FIDH regrets the fact that the ACHPR did not address the issue of enforced disappearances in Africa. Indeed, it would have been symbolic for the ACHPR to adopt a strong position against this flail, all the more since 2007 is the year of adoption by the United Nations of the Convention on Enforced Disappearances. Besides, two countries where the question of enforced disappearances is a national issue were particularly involved in this 42nd ordinary session of the ACHPR: the Republic of Congo, as it welcomed this 42nd ordinary session and the Republic of Algeria, which report has been examined.

FIDH also regrets the attitude of the Congolese authorities which, by inviting the ACHPR in Brazzaville had the historical occasion to act concretely for human rights in Congo, in particular regarding the families of the disappeared at the Beach. Instead, the Congolese authorities decided to prohibit the pacific commemoration FIDH and the Observatoire des droits de l’Homme au Congo (OCDH) wanted to organise with the Collectif des familles des disparus du Beach in memory of the victims. This behaviour is a new insult to the memory of victims. [1]

FIDH also regrets the fact that the Commission did not take a strong position on the grave violations of human rights ongoing in Somalia, DRC, CAR and of course in Darfur.

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