The Africa Center for International Law and Accountability (ACILA) has lauded Benin for making a declaration allowing its citizens to file complaints against the state to seek redress of human rights violations at the African Court on Human and People’s Rights (AfCHPR), in Arusha, Tanzania.
In a statement, ACILA said that Benin’s declaration is an important step towards demonstrating its commitment to promoting and protecting the rights of its citizens, adding that the declaration also allows NGOs, including ACILA, to file complaints on behalf of citizens.
The statement emphasized that demonstrating this commitment is very important, especially at a time when African states intend to establish an African court with jurisdiction to prosecute serious international crimes, such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
The declaration comes three months after ACILA had called on Member States of the Africa Union to ratify the Protocol to the AfCHPR and make a declaration under Article 34 (6) of the Protocol to allow the court to receive complaints from citizens and NGOs.
The AfCHPR is a continental court established by the AU to enhance the protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa. It provides assurance to victims of human rights abuses that when domestic systems fail, they can resort to the African court for justice.
Commenting on how citizens could access the court, ACILA explained that a complainant must ensure that the complaint meets admissibility requirements and must allege facts detailing the abuse of his rights which are within the jurisdiction of the Court. In addition, the writing should not be abusive and the complainant must have exhausted domestic remedies, among other requirements, ACILA added.
The court’s decision, which is binding on states that have ratified the Protocol, may include reparation and compensation for victims whose rights were violated by the state. Benin becomes the 8th Member State of the Africa Union to make a declaration.
Ghana, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Malawi, Mali, Rwanda and Tanzania are the other countries that have made a declaration under the Protocol. Benin is also the 30th AU Member State to ratify the Protocol to the establishment of the AfCHPR.
The Protocol to the establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights was adopted on 9 June 1998 in Burkina Faso and came into force on 25 January 2004.The Court officially started its operations in November 2006 and delivered its first judgment in 2009 following an application dated 11 August 2008 by Mr. Michelot Yogogombaye against the Republic of Senegal.
As at January, 2016, the Court had received 74 applications and finalized 25 cases.
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