NEW BEGINING IN HUMAN RIGHT CHAPTER.
CONDUCTED IN BANJUL, GAMBIA
FROM 20th – 26th OCTOBER 2018
Supported by: Legal Service Facility (LSF) Tanzania
Coordinator – MACSNET
Engagement with United Nations, Regional and Sub-regional human rights mechanisms and treaty bodies is a powerful tool for promoting human rights both at national and international level. The Ordinary Session of the African Commissionon Human and Peoples Rights is an avenue given to CSOs representing different countries to express andair out their concerns about the situation of human rights and seek redress from the Commission. ACHPR sessions are expected to be conducted from.
Hence, from 20th to 22nd October 2018, a team of Tanzanian CSO’s representatives attended the NGO Forum to discuss and deliberate on the state of human rights in African states where by the deliberations were presented to the African commission on Human and People’s right sessions which started from 23-27th, October 2018, to seek redress and further follow up. Among eighteen CSO’s from Tanzania which were represented in the sessions in Gambia, three were LSF partners who was also sponsored by the Legal Service Facility to attend the sessions.
During the sessions LSF participants had a lot of issues on human rights in general to learn, experience sharing with other human rights organizations from African states, creation of networks and linkages with other NGO’s as well as getting clear picture on how the African Commission works in relation to its decisions and enforcement of the same in ensuring redress and restoration of peoples and human rights in African states. Some of the human rights issues which were discussed and resolutions presented to the commission includes enhancing Democracy and good governance, elimination of corruption, restoration of civic space, application of various conventions signed by the state at local level as well as effects of ongoing civil war in African countries on human rights.
As a country Tanzania also had an opportunity to read Statement on the state of shrinking civic space in Tanzania before the members of the 63rd Ordinary session of the African Commission in which we also had an opportunity to attend.
- OBJECTIVES AND RELEVANCE FOR PARTICIPATING IN ACHPR SESSIONS
- Tanzanian (LSF sponsored) delegates to attend the NGOs Forum sessions where will have an opportunity to acquire different experiences, best practices and lessons learnt on the impact of human right situation in Africa with a view of identifying responses as well as adopting strategies towards improving the human rights situation specifically to Tanzania.
- Tanzanian delegation to attend side events where different topics will be discussed and deliberated. Therefore, Tanzania delegate shall review the CSOs program, whereby shall divide themselves self for equal participation at least in all relevant sessions that relate with our core objective of our program (Legal Aid and Education) and share the output among ourselves after the sessions.
- The Tanzanian delegation intends to conduct informal meetings with four of ACHPR commissioners on Tanzanian state of freedom of expression, association, assembly and specifically with a Commissioner dealing with Tanzanian matters. These commissioners are expected be ambassadors to present our cases of human right violations to the commission sessions.
- The NGO Forum and ACHRPR is a platform where Tanzanian participants shall have an opportunity to meet and lobby for different partners who works to promote human right situation, capacity development to Human right Organizations as well as networking to interested partners.
- THE SESSIONS
2.1 NGO Forum
NGOs Forum is an advocacy platform coordinated by the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies to promote advocacy, lobbying and networking among and between human rights NGOs, for the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa. Normally, the main purpose of the Forum was to generate recommendations on the state of human rights situation in Africa to African Commission on Human and Peoples rights. During the Forum there was shared updates on the human rights situation in Africa countries by the Africans and International NGOs (INGOs) community with a view of identifying responses as well as adopting strategies towards improving the human rights situation on the continent. The NGO forum was conducted from 20-22 October, 2018.
The general content of the Forum was around six (6) main thematic areas.
3.1.1 Overview of the status of Democracy and human rights in Africa (update from sub-regional Focal Points on the generalsituation of human rights in Africa, with a focus on human rights, democracy and rule of law).
The presentation aimed at getting update from sub regional focal points on the general situation of human rights in Africa, with a focus in democracy and rule of law. The presentationstargeted Central Africa, Eastern Africa, Northern Africa, Western Africa and Southern Africa. To his introductory part the presenter indicated about the state of persistence of impunity in most of the African countries, sighting the case of Congo DRC where about 80% of population being illiterate and hence not able to use electronic voting machines which then denies their rights to democracy. In other central African countries like Guinea there is existence of impunity due poor rule of law which results to civil war where by about 2 million refugees from Guinea lives in Nigeria. In Chad most of the time policemen fights with the human right CSO’s during advocacy to demand rule of law and democracy while in Mali ministry responsible for human right issues have been completely abolished.
In central African countries seeking asylum is a human right issue but many refugees have been denied eg in Nigeria. Further, assassination, raping etc have been common challenges in Congo Brazzaville, Cameroon, and Congo republic. In North Kivu, during 2017, people were demonstrating against freeing of one defender who was prisoned but they were attacked by police and 15 citizens died on the sport. In October the same year 18 activists in Goma were buried alive when trying to voice out the state of violation of human rights through demonstration.
In West Africa in many countries laws related to right of assembly is exercised with a reservation that the actions may result into violations and hence state applies forces to restrict its application. In Togo for instance, about 1000 demonstrators who were doing peaceful demonstration were arrested and prisoned, where also freedom of media and speech are continuing to be restricted. In Mauritania the Government is putting a lot of forces in preventing human right defenders to conduct their defending business, while at the same time freedom of expression is very poor. However, on the prospect side Morocco has ratified African Charter on political and human right and moderately is getting applied.
Southern African countries the same as west, north and central Africa observes more or less situation of human rights in their countries. Angola Government does not implement at all internal and National laws and treaties which provides for human right recognition and application. In Angola arrest, prisoning and restrictions in operation of NGO’s is a common phenomenon and right to freedom of press is shrinking too much. In Malawi half of the population lives below poverty line while at the same time country laws and policies are adhered to which allows intimidation to some of the human right defenders to defend violations like child labor, corruption and suppress work of NGO’s. Zimbabwean election was peaceful but after election police and army arrested some political protestors who were conducting peaceful protest against the elected Government.
State of civic space in Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda is shrinking day after day, In Tanzania political parties are no longer allowed to conduct meetings which denies their freedom of association, Media are facing a lot of restrictions especially printed and electronic media, NGO;s are now not allowed to produce evidence for advocacy through research unless given permission by national bureau of Statistics, All these are supported by application draconian laws through amendment of existing laws and policies governing media, NGO’s as well as political parties operations.
Generally killings in Nigeria, terrorism in Mauritania, restrictions of CSO’s space in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Togo as well as arrest of human right defenders is a clear sign of violation of human rights by African states in which NGO’s must intervene through creating evidence to supporting the African Commission to conduct intervention in those countries.
Recommendations from the NGO Forum
Due to the above situation the NGO Forum recommended the following actions.
- Central African Countries should visit other countries with peace and get experience on how to maintain peace through application of rule of law and democracy in their countries.
- Special rapporteur of African Commission responsible to visit Cameroon, Congo, Central Africa republic to observe the situation and make conversation with Government on how to restore the human situation in their countries.
- Countries to take accountable measures to combat corruption in African countries.
- Countries to create conducive environment for citizens to exercise freedom of association and expression.
Tanzanian Delegates in group picture with Ghambian Chief Justice who has worked as CEO for International Court on Tribunal in Arusha for 12 years. He was very happy to meet with people from Tanzania.
3.1.2 Freedom of expression and access to information in African states.
The presentation aimed at linking and creating the relationship between corruption and Situation of Freedom of Expressions and access to information in African states.
Generally once corrupted, expression and information actors and handlers are predisposed to withholding and distorting information. Compromised reportage and coverage negatively influences the public’s perception of what is true more so on public interest issues such as health care, education, land. Bribery of those who are in policy making positions also negatively affects freedom of expression and access to information policy making processes. Corruption in legislative spaces has been reported in places like Kenya where parliamentarians were bribed to drop plans to impeach a Cabinet Secretary implicated in corruption. Corruption also affects objective and lawful licensing of media operators. Corruption therefore, disenfranchises those who are unable to pay high fees for bribes from running media establishments. Critical and independent media practitioners have been co-opted into government by being given government jobs so as to silence objective media work. This leaves the public with fewer champions of human rights and truth.
Corruption has been used to get spies into media establishments who then remove objective truthful reportage, inhibiting the public’s access to information. Corruption is a critical inhibitor to legal redress for expression and access to information victims. It further fuels impunity.
Proposed Actions for Addressing Above Violations
- Member states should sensitize the public on the effects of corruption on access to justice.
- Civil society, together with other actors should publicly denounce violations to shame those involved especially those suppressing the voice of journalists and citizens.
- Civil society should build regional and national networks of anti-corruption actors in order to have bigger voice and more leverage on advocacy initiatives.
- Member states should endorse adoption of codes of conduct to particular industries to restrict actors from operations that might allow involvement in corruption.
3.1.3 The African charter on the right to free of movement and Residence – Article 12 (1).
The presentation aimed at voicing out the state of right of internally displaced people, immigrants and asylum seekers especially in the war and conflict based African states. Basically right to free movement cannot be achieved if the Kampala convention will not be ratified and implemented by African states. While article 12 of the Africa charter states that the right to freedom of movement will be obligation of the state, it is only few African states which have ratifies the convention. The convention is also relevant to refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants from any nay African states who would want to have protection in another state.
In this context migration should not be taken as an issue of crossing the border and exchange of citizens, but should be the right of a person to move and live within a border of another country. Freedom of movement is recognized by Kampala conversion charter which states clearly that Nationals, immigrants and asylum seekers have the right of state and the state should not see them as braking the law. Also the charter states that states should not constrain the movement between states within the framework which are provided in the declaration and article 12 of African charter.
Therefore, freedom to choose the residential state where there is necessary movement is a basic human right and any limitation must be construed within what is provided in the article 12 of African charter. Hence, it the obligation of the state to protect human movement as a human right aspect including providing support to special groups like children, women, pastoralists, people with disability as well as persons with HIV/AIDS.
3.1.4 Role of Paralegals in promoting Access to Justice in communities and formal justice system.
Through a side event which was represented by Malawi, Uganda and Tanzania, the role of paralegals in African states towards enhancing access to justice to communities and formal justice system was discussed. It was noted that poverty which is prevailing in may Africa states is perpetuated by many factors, some being interference by state with judiciary institutions, delay in disposal of cases etc. This results into violations of human rights in areas of right to fair trial, right to health and right to liberty. Therefore, participants some key actions that should be taken purposely by African states to address the above situation which includes;
- African states should make formal recognition of paralegals as primary legal aid and education providers.
- Government to establish legal Aid basket funds to support the paralegal work especially at local levels.
- Government to initiate and implement the capacity building program to key justice institutions as a way of combating corruption and improving access to justice.
- The Government of Tanzania has enacting the Legal Aid Act of 2017, that is acknowledged, however we Tanzanian call upon the Commission to recommend to the Government of Tanzania to enact the same law in Zanzibar and to fully support the initiative by providing Legal Aid Government Funding as a way of implementing Sustainable Development Goal No.16.
LSF sponsored team strategizing after the side event session
3.1.5 Situation of Human right defenders in protecting human right in Africa and recommendations to African Commission: Case of Tanzanian context.
The situation of Human Right Defenders in Tanzania was reported as deteriorating at a high speed coupled with strict and frequent enactment of draconian laws eg cybercrime act, statistics act, access to information act and recent amendment of NGO’s. Arrest, attack and persecution of HRD while performing their duties was explained as a common phenomenon and over the past two years, the rights to freedoms of Assembly, Association and the right to take part in governance have severely been restricted by the government apparatus.
There has been continued restriction to political assembly. Political parties’ freedom to exercise their activities has been curtailed. Public political meetings and rallies have been suspended by presidential fiat and restricted to politician’s own constituencies despite absence of a law that provides for such constraints. More than 53 members and leaders of the opposition political parties have been arrested, prosecuted and others sentenced to jail for allegedly organizing unlawful assemblies. There have been continuous threats from the government to deregister some of the vibrant critical Civil Societies such as Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) and other CSOs for what is called elements of ‘political activism’ and ‘non-compliance to the NGO law’.
The right to participate in governance has also been violated. Most of the 2017 and 2018 by elections were marred by violence and irregularities and incidents of massive human rights violations including excessive use of force by law enforcement agencies, abductions of party leaders, representatives and voters, beatings and torture. There have been continued threats to CSOs and religious leaders for critically commenting on governance and political issues.
Therefore, it is upon the Commission toconduct an immediate assessment into cases of arbitrary restriction on freedoms of Assembly and Association in Tanzania in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, as well as to take initiative to influence the Government of Tanzania to review its Constitution and relevant electoral laws so as to have an independent Electoral Commissions and achieve other related political rights.
3.1.6 Maputo Protocol: Enhancing African CSO’s capacity to monitor the reporting and implementation of Maputo Protocol.
This was a side Event which was organized by Girls advocacy alliance, the Forum for African Women Education (FAWE) together with Gender Center for Empowering Development (GenCED). The aim was to discuss the collective role of CSO’s in enhancing and enabling the state to report on frequent progress made on Maputo protocol and the relevance of Maputo protocol for reporting to the ACHPR.
The presentation outlined two main important issues which also formed part of the group discussions. One is best practices of regional CSO’s to report on Maputo protocol and second was Understanding Maputo protocol score cards Development – an example of Ghana’s report card for Maputo protocol articles on Gender based violence (GBV) and women Economic Empowerment (EE).
During the discussion it was realized that also the tool can be used as a barometer to monitor the progress made so far to other women empowerment indicators which must be met by the Government including access the right of health; Equal treatment of the law; Right to Education; Sextortion to favor of the promotion & other services etc
At the same time, during this session, participants agreed and also proposed recommendations for addressing the above mentioned violations by fulfilling the following below assignments:
- Domestication of Maputo declaration for countries that has not done so;
- Countries with reservations to Maputo protocols & conventions shall consider and ratify.
3.2 63rd Session of the ACHPR
After the NGO Forum then the recommendations from different states and different thematic areas were drawn and read to the 63rdordinary session of the African commission on human and people’s right for their action. Tanzanian statement (attached) was also read before members of the African commission which started its session in Banjul, The Gambia, from 24 October to 13.
The Commission celebrated the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on this occasion and following Members of the Commission participated in the Session:
Hon. Soyata Maiga, Chairperson; Hon Lawrence Murugu Mute, Vice-Chairperson; Hon Yeung
Kam John Yeung Sik; Hon Kayitesi Zainabo Sylvie; Hon Lucy Asuagbor; Hon Maya Sahli-Fadel;
Hon Jamesina Essie L. King; Hon Solomon AyeleDersso; Hon Hatem Essaiem; Ho Maria Teresa
Manuela; and Hon Remy NgoyLumbu.
The opening ceremony was graced by the presence of H. E. Mr Ousainou Darboe, Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia, who declared the 63rd Ordinary Session open.
Mrs. Hannah Forster, the Executive Director of the ACDHR Centre speaking on behalf of the participants of the NGO Forum, highlighted some of the activities carried out during the Forum, including the 37th African Human Rights Book Fair from 20 to 22 October 2018, celebration of African Human Rights Day on 21 October 2018 as well as the 15th anniversary of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol). She also indicated that the Forum held discussions on preventing corruption within the framework of the African Union (AU) theme for 2018 “winning the fight against corruption”.
In his opening remarks, H. E. Mr Ousainou Darboe, Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia, welcomed participants to the 63rd Ordinary Session of the Commission. He indicated that the Government of The Gambia is honored to host the sessions of the Commission, particularly the 63rd Ordinary Session which coincides with the 70th anniversary of the UDHR. He noted that African states have taken great strides following the adoption of the UDHR, including the adoption of the African Charter, although more needs to be done to fully realize the values enshrined in the African Charter.
Ghambian Vice Prsident (in middle) officiating the ACHPR meeting on 24th October 2018
The Vice President proceeded to share some positive developments in the human rights situation in The Gambia following the last Ordinary Session held in The Gambia in October 2017, including the ratification by The Gambia of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance; the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR; the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance; and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Court Protocol). He further stated that The Gambia is in the process of making a Declaration pursuant to Article 34 (6) of the Court Protocol to allow individuals and NGOs to have direct access to the Court. Regarding ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, he indicated that The Gambia has adopted a moratorium on the application of the death penalty as a first step towards abolition.
Tanzanian participants to the ACHPR opening session.
After the official opening other Tanzanian team members participated in different side events which had different themes on human right and organized at different locations and timings and organized by different NGO’s. Tanzania delegates, especially those sponsored by LSF managed to participate in the following sessions;
- The Maputo Protocol reporting on GBV and Economic Empowerment (EE) of women organized by Girls Advocacy Alliance.
- African charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance as an instrument to combat human rights violations and corruption in Africa which was organized by CIVICUS.
- On application of resolution 275 of the ACHPR and the Ekurhuleni declaration by National by National Human Rights Institutions organized by center for human rights university of Pretoria, SA.
- The situation of human rights in Tanzania, focus on freedom of expression, human right defenders and freedom of assembly/association which was organized by THRDC and Open Society Foundation.
- LESSONS LEARNT, OPPORTUNITIES CREATED AND RECCOMENDATIONS.
Upon attending the meetings in Banjul, the Gambia there are several lessons that was leant and some opportunities which was created that can be applicable entirely in the advancement of Legal Aid education agenda.
4.1 Lessons leant
- There are high practice of human rights violation in most of the African states which in one way is a result of poor democracy, rule of law and accountability. However, in war prone states like Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Egypt the violation of human right is even more evident and the effects are very high especially to vulnerable groups like children, women and elderly. While this is happening to some countries some neighboring countries where these groups could seek asylum and get residence, have not ratified the Banjul declaration and hence have lots of restrictions to the war victims who are suffering from effects of the war.
- It is only about 25% of African states which have fully ratified and implemented domestically the African Charter on Human and people’s right. This is highly caused by poor Democracy, Governance and rule of law which is being perpetuated by corruption.
The poor application of the charter is as a result of political will. Most of African political leaders especially the head of states have no political will to act on it to defend their powers and personal gains.
- If Civil Society Organizations is a powerful mechanism to ensure African Human right mechanism are adopted and implemented at country level. Hence, there is a need of strengthening our voice and promote advocacy, lobbying and networking among and between human rights NGOs, for thepromotion and protection of human rights in Africa.
- Tanzania, as a country, ratified and signed different conventions, protocols and charters related to protection and provision of various kinds of human rights to its citizens which are attached to women’s, youth, children and disabled. Generally as Tanzania CSO’s we do not have a clear mechanism of monitoring its implementation at country level to see the status of their implementation.
Tanzanians in a group photo with Commissioner Prof Mute from Kenya (with t shirt and white stick) who is also the vice chair of the ACHPR
On our arrival in Tanzania at JNIA[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]