The Prime Minister of Guinea Bissau, Umaro Sissoco Embaló has offered to serve as Ambassador at Large to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, based in Arusha, Tanzania.

As African Court Ambassador at Large the Prime Minister Sissoco Embalo, will complement the Court’s sensitization and lobbying initiatives among the African States who are yet to ratify the Protocol and deposit the Declaration that allows access to the Court by Non-Governmental Organizations and individuals.

The Guinea Bissau Prime Minister made the offer of intent to serve as the African Court Ambassador at Large during a sensitization visit to Bissau by high level delegation from the Court.

The delegation was led by its President Justice Sylvain Oré, and it included the Vice President Justice Ben Kioko, and Justice Angelo Matusse a Judge as well as some Registry staff.

As at June, 30, this year, 22 African Union States who have ratified and acceded to the Protocol have so far failed to deposit the declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the African Court to receive cases from individuals and non-governmental organisations from their respective countries.

The African Countries who have so far deprived their citizens the right to petition the African Court in case of violation of their human rights are: Algeria, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Comoros, Gabon, The Gambia, Kenya, Libya, Lesotho, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Senegal, South Africa, and Togo.

The eight African Countries who have boldly made the declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the Court to receive cases from individuals and NGOs are: Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Malawi, Mali, Tanzania and Tunisia.

In an interview CDA Consult, the African Court President, Justice Oré, explained that the fact that only 30 Member States are parties and only 8 have deposited the declaration means that the African Court does not have jurisdiction to hear cases from individuals and NGOs, from the vast majority of Member States.

“Their governments have either not ratified the Protocol or deposited the declaration, effectively therefore, the African Court does not have the capacity to receive cases for alleged human rights violations from a large number of citizens of the Union,” he lamented.

Justice Ore also revealed that the low level of ratification of the Protocol, and the slow rate of deposit of the declaration, may endanger and threaten the African Court’s effectiveness.

“One of the major challenges to the effectiveness of the African Court in particular and the protection of human rights in Africa as a whole, is the low level of ratification of the Protocol, and the even lower number of Article 34(6) declarations made and deposited”.

The African Court President, therefore charge Member States of the Union who have so far failed to accede to the Protocol and/or deposit the Declaration under Article 34(6) thereof, to do so immediately.

The African Court was established by virtue of Article 1 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Right.

It was to complement the protective mandate of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights with a view to enhancing the protection of human rights on the continent.

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Source: CDA Consult