AFRICAN UNION / /
African Commission on Human & Peoples’ Rights / UNIÃO AFRICANA
Commission Africaine des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples48, Kairaba Avenue, P. O. Box 673, Banjul, The Gambia Tel: (220) 4392 962; Fax: (220) 4390 764 E-mail: ; website:
Me REINE ALAPINI-GANSOU
November 2007-April 2008
This report is submitted in accordance with item 3 of article 87 of our rules of procedure, and covers promotional activities undertaken during the intersession period between the 42nd session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights held in Congo, from 15 October to 18 November, 2008 and this session.
In this report, I relate activities carried out in my capacity as Commission Member.
IN MY CAPACITY AS MEMBER OF THE AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS.
I carried out the following activities:
- On 1 December, 2007 I made a presentation in Cotonou, Benin, on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights at a National Training Seminar organised by the UNESCO Office in BENIN, for education councillors. The theme of the Seminar was « schools and human rights ». At this forum I spoke on the context and content of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
- From 13 to 14 December 2007, I attended a Seminar at the Canoviennes Nuns’ Training Centre in the Tové/Lome in the Togolese Republic on: “Leadership for the Franciscan Family in West Africa: Cameroon and Chad “. The Seminar was organised by Franciscan International and our participation at this Seminar was in response to the invitation extended to the Commission by the representative of this partner NGO, at our last session. The objective of this seminar was to impart on priests and lay members of the Franciscan congregation rudiments of human rights and to familiarise them with international and regional human rights instruments: including human rights specific legal instruments. During the session, I made two presentations on the rights enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and on the functioning of the Commission: the composition and mandate of the African Commission, a cardinal organ for the realisation of human rights in Africa, as well as its relations with civil society and State Parties. Other presentations were made at the seminar by several experts from the United Nations; the Togo Office of the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights, the Wildaf network, the Togo Office of the United Nations Development Programme and members of the Togolese Government.
3 On 25 January, 2008, I had discussions with the Ambassador of the United States in Benin, Her Excellency Gayleatha B. Brown, in my capacity as Member of the Commission and as Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders. During this audience, I briefed her on issues related to the promotion and protection of Human Rights and on capacity building for Human Rights Defenders. I gave the Ambassador a brief overview of our Commission, its mandate and special mechanisms. I also informed Her Excellency of our tools production project which is being partly sponsored by Norway.
4 Just as other players, the Ambassador of the United States of America wondered how representative HRD were, especially Women HRD. As a result I encouraged Women Human Rights Defenders working within the Benin Coalition of HRD to come up with activities likely to attract US Embassy support for Benin.
5 On 28 January, 2008, I had discussions with the Resident Representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF,) in Benin Mr Diallo Souleymane. Together we discussed the issues of Child Protection in Benin; especially those in the North of the country, and victims of the so called “child witchcraft” phenomenon. For civil society actors and the Government, this is not a new phenomenon in Benin and following investigations, it was reliably learnt that the State of Benin in association with certain NGOs fighting for Children’s Rights in Benin are working together to combat this phenomenon. I also looked into the possibility of future cooperation between ACHPR and UNICEF, accordingly, the ACHPR would be making recommendations along these lines during the presentation of the Benin Report.
6 On 29, January, 2008, at the request of GEPIFED-BENIN, I spoke to INFOSEC, in Cotonou on the topic: “the issue of under-representation of women at the decision-making level”, as part of the advocacy for better representation of women at the decision–making level. This strategic activity not only takes into account the poor results obtained at the last presidential and legislative elections and the resultant level of representation of women in politics but is also carried out in anticipation of the upcoming communal elections what with some thirty women candidates vying for the communal and local elections in Benin.
7 From 13-15 February, in Lomé, Togo I attended a seminar jointly organised by the Interparliamentary Union (IPU), the United Nation’s High Commission for Human Rights (UNHCHR), in collaboration with the Parliamentary Commission of the National Assembly of Togo for parliamentarians and other socio-political actors. During this seminar I gave a presentation on: “African human rights instruments and their mechanisms.”
8 It should be brought to your kind attention that this seminar was conducted within the framework of the pilot capacity building project for parliamentarians being implemented by the Interparliamentary Union. Thus a follow up of the seminars was organised in Mali from 25-27 February, 2008, here I presented a communication on the general theme : “ the role of Malian parliamentarians in the drafting of national reports for treaty organs and in the monitoring of their recommendations”.
9 From 12 to 24 February, I participated in the 4th extraordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights held in Banjul, the Gambia, headquarters of the Commission. During this session, the single agenda item covered the revision and fine tuning of the draft rules of procedure of the Commission.
10 On 25 February, I attended an Inter University Forum on : Family and Human Rights in Francophone West Africa” organised by the Danish Institute for Human Rights in collaboration with the Political and Legal Division of the University of Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso. At this forum, I made a presentation on “Family, Human Rights and Reform in Francophone West Africa.”
11 On 3rd March, I had discussions with Professor Théodore Holo the holder of the UNESCO Chair (Benin) on Human and Peoples’ rights and looked into how to enhance cooperation given that I had already been approached in the past to make presentations on the genesis and context of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African system for the protection and promotion of Human Rights.
12 The Professor made a few pertinent suggestions and encouraged me to contact the other UNESCO Chairs, especially in countries whose promotion activities are under my purview. I have already contacted the Chairs of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tunisia.
13 On 6 March, I successively met the Ambassadors of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and France. During our discussions, with His Excellency, Dr. Albrecht Conze, Ambassador of the FRG, I had exchanges on the human rights situation on the Continent, in general, and in Benin, in particular. Ambassador Conze expressed his deep concern at the human rights violations perpetrated within the continent, spoke of his experiences and his concerns in the area of human rights in some countries which fall under my promotion jurisdiction.
14 During our discussions with His Excellency Mr. Hervé Besancenot Ambassador of France in Benin, I presented the two mandates of the Commission namely: my mandate as Member of the ACHPR and as Special Rapporteur on the rights of Human Rights Defender in Africa. The Ambassador of France to Benin assured me of a fruitful collaboration.
Over the past six months we have tried to make our position as Commissioners more visible at the national level and to define relations between the Commission and the different member countries especially the home countries of the Commission members. The different Communications I presented at seminars have helped attain the objectives of our mission as stipulated in article 45 of the Charter. Indeed, parliamentarians and practicing legal practitioners constitute an important link in the drafting of texts for the promotion and protection of human rights, in fact the seminars organized on their behalf have helped prepare them to some extent.
Finally, Madame Chairperson, in this report, it is clear that over the last six months I was unable to carry out any planned promotional visits despite the fact that I had already received approval, in principle, from all the countries to field the said visits . Unfortunately, nothing concrete has happened to date. I find it difficult to explain this state of affairs and can only urge States who had given their approval in principle to maintain the dialogue with us and to ensure these promotional visits actually take place.