African Court Reiterates Human Rights Is A Collective Responsibility
The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights on Tuesday said the protection of human rights is a collective responsibility, 'whether we are Judges, Litigants, Applicants, Respondent States, Civil Society or friends of African human rights system.
'The responsibility of an Africa that is respectful of human rights and endowed with a rule of law culture is incumbent on us all. Such responsibility behoves however in a very special way on civil society and media professionals.
'One cannot think of life-changing human rights advocacy without an innovative involvement of civil society and the media,' Justice Sylvain Ore stated in an interview with the Ghana News Agency.
Justice Ore who outlined the African Court's 2018 activity calendar said within the African human rights community, civil society and the media were quick to be satisfied with the establishment of the African Court, which they had relentlessly called for.
'This state of affairs leads me to call on civil society and the media to support the African Court after contributing successfully to its establishment.
'Civil society and the media's contribution to the development of the African Court's relevant jurisprudence has unfortunately remained at its embryonic state,' Justice Ore stated.
The African Court President noted and acknowledged the critical role that bears on civil society and the media in supporting submission of cases to the African Court by the Banjul Commission.
He tasked civil society and the media to assist in disseminating the African Court's judgments at the national level, and provide States with the assistance needed to effectively enforce the decisions.
Justice Ore also urged States to take innovative litigation stands needed by the Maputo Protocol on the rights of women to change the face of human rights litigation on the continent.
He noted that it is 'our common responsibility for an Africa, which places human rights at the heart of the African Union reforms and as the key to socio-economic and human development.
'This is the concerted action that I call on you to join during the year 2018 for the sake of fostering human rights in Africa and for an independent, strong and effective African Court'.
The African Court President said it could be stated with no doubt that; the year 2018 began under a promising note of political commitment in favour of human rights.
In light of that the African Union would devote the year to re-state commitment in fighting corruption towards an African continent that would overcome under-development.
He said it was key to stress the critical link between corruption and human rights: the former constitutes a serious and massive violation of the latter, especially economic and social rights.
Justice Ore said the African Court would this year harness efforts towards synergy in the African human rights system on the one hand and in strengthening judicial efficiency on the other.
'With respect to synergy, the African Court's logical aim is to work for more concerted and efficient action as required under the reform process conducted by the African Union. We must all bear in mind, all year long, the dire need to promote complementarity between the African Court and the Banjul Commission,' he said.
'We should seek to overcome the hurdle of the limiting eight declarations in the African Court to capitalise ingeniously on the immense potential of the 30 ratifications in the Commission.
'The least to observe in that regard is that individual applicants and civil society in Africa are yet to put to test judicial complementality as inaugurated by the Ouagadougou Protocol with extraordinary hope,' he said.
The African Court has adopted an annual work plan, which encourages a catalytic engagement with all the stakeholders of the African human rights community.
In the African Court's motto, in addition to pulling for synergy, the year 2018 will be one of judicial productivity and efficiency.
Its 2018 activities also include; finalisation of its formal Legal Aid Programme, proceed with the training of registered counsel, introduce a Code of Conduct for Counsel, and finalise the review of its Rules of Procedure.
The African Court would also pursue the release of its Guidelines on Reparations and complete the process of setting up a Compliance Monitoring Mechanism for the enforcement of its judgments.
It would improve judicial activity, which requires constant awareness of fast changing legal thinking.
The African Court would also uninterruptedly publish the African Human Rights Year book.
The African Court would also publish the first decade jurisprudence in an accessible format and would be placed at the disposal of the entire community for the overall interest of litigants, victims, in short of Parties before the African Court.