Strong stand taken by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the crises situations raging on the African continent

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisations welcome the strong stand taken by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on the political, security and humanitarian confllicts and crises raging on the continent, at the close of its 51st Ordinary Session. After calling for harder stances of the African Commission [1] for many sessions, the FIDH now urges African Union (AU) Member States to give immediate effect to the recently adopted resolutions.

Sudan and South Sudan are thus called to take all necessary measures in order to ensure the preservation of the life and security of their respective populations and immediately bring answers to the issues that set the countries against each other. « The military option should give way to a political solution. The resumption of negotiations on the fundamental issues of the distribution of wealth, the borders’ delilmitation as well as the citizenship is essential to avoid unrest in a region where civilians will be, once more, the main victims », said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President, who carried this message before the African Commission. In addition, responding to the appeal of the FIDH and its member organisation, the African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), the African Commission denounced the worsening of the security situation in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions of Sudan, where a continuing conflict of an extreme violence has opposed the national armed forces to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) for nearly a year, and has lead to the death of hundreds of civilians and the forced displacement of thousands others.

The African Commission further recalled the importance of the provisions built in the African Charter of Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) and denounced the unconstitutional changes of government that lately occured in Mali and Guinea-Bissau. Also condemned by the FIDH during this Session, the political and security situation prevailing calls for the preservation of the territorial integrity of Mali [2] and the re-establishment of sound democratic institutions that will allow a way-out of the crises in those two countries. The restoration of peace and political stability is essential in a West African region where several armed groups, like in Nigeria, still perpetrate violations.

The African Commission considered with a particular attention the civil and political rights’ violations happening in several countries. The Commission condemned the recurring impediment to Human rights defenders’ action in countries like Ethiopia – where the Charities and Civil Societies Proclamation adopted in 2009 continues to place excessive restrictions on Human rights organisations’ work - Swaziland - where authorities keep opposing the fundamental rights to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association - and Somalia, where journalists are taken in the grip of the ongoing armed conflict and are openly murdered. The FIDH welcomes the African Commission’s clear call for the amendment of the Ethiopian Charities and Civil Societies Proclamation, for the respect of the rights to fundamental freedoms in Swaziland and for justice to be rendered to the murdered journalists in Somalia. All these recommandations were supported by our organisation [3] .

Lastly, the FIDH pays tribute to the adoption of a resolution urging AU Member States to ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The FIDH has indeed supported the adoption of such a resolution by calling herself African States to show more leadership and ratify the Protocol, which entry into force will affirm the access to justice for the poorest and most marginalised.

« This Session of the ACHPR has fulffiled most of our expectations, yet the main issue henceforth is the implementation of ACHPR’s resolutions by the States, whom to our understanding, cannot be unshaken by the emergency and the seriousness of the situations on the continent. The other issue obviously at stake remains the recommendations that will be addressed to Sudan and Angola, the two countries which reports were considered during this session. We expect the African Commission to adopt public recommandations that measure up to the challenges experienced by these States » declared Mabassa Fall, FIDH Permanent Representative before the African Union.

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