Terrorism threatens human rights - Tlakula

2016-07-18 16:34

Kigali - Terrorist attacks in Africa have had a "profound impact on the enjoyment of human rights" on the continent, heads of African Union member states were told on Monday.

Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights, Pansy Tlakula, said in a special statement to the AU heads of state summit that ended in Kigali, Rwanda, on Monday, that terrorist attacks caused "deaths, untold destruction of property, displacements and various other human rights violations".

She listed as "additional concerns" the continuing conflicts and "acts of armed groups which have had detrimental effects on the lives of civilians in some countries".

Without singling any countries out, she also mentioned "reported cases of arbitrary arrest and detention; the targeting of journalists, human rights defenders and political opponents, in order to silence them; reports of brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers during demonstrations; the use of torture and ill-treatment by law enforcement and security forces; and the increasing number of refugees and internally displaced persons as a result of political instabilities".

Conflicts like that in South Sudan were at the top of the AU summit agenda, whereas police activities did not feature at all. Migration also enjoyed some attention. 

Tlakula also took the opportunity to thank those states which ratified the various human right treaties on the continent and internationally, but she encouraged them to report back more regularly.

African Court of Justice and Human Rights

"For instance, with regard to the African Charter and the Maputo Protocol, only 19 states have reported up-to-date on the African Charter (on Human and People’s Rights), while only five states have reported on the Maputo Protocol since their entries into force in 1986 and 2005 respectively," she said.

The Maputo Protocol to the African Charter guarantees women's rights.

Tlakula also said those states which hadn't ratified the various human rights treaties yet should come on board.

Only five states have ratified the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights, which meant the citizens of most states did not have direct access to this court.

This court could become more important in the next few years, as many African states were considering withdrawal from the International Criminal Court.

The focus point for this year's AU summits is human rights, in particular women's rights.

Tlakula also submitted a report on the commission's activities.


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