In accordance with Rule 19 of the Rules of Court (the Rules), the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Court) has adopted the following Practice Directions as a guide to potential litigants.
Cases are to be submitted at the seat of the Court, which is at Arusha, Tanzania. (Articles 24 and 25 of the Protocol) either by post, email, fax or courier.
Registry of the Court
P.O. Box 6274
Fax : +255-732-97 95 03
This is also the address that must be used for all email communications relating to cases.
Submissions shall be in writing and only one copy of the claim is required by the rules to be submitted to the registry. This copy must be in one of the official languages of the Court, signed by the applicant or representative, give the details of the applicant and respondent and specify the alleged violations and order sought, as well as offer proof of exhaustion of local remedies. Rule 34.
No statute of limitations applies as to when a matter can be brought before the Court. The rules set no limits save for "a reasonable time from the date local remedies were exhausted", unless the Court had set a date. [Rule 40 (6)]. The Protocol in Article 3 extends the Court's jurisdiction "to all cases and disputes submitted to it". This leaves the Court with a very wide discretion as to when it may receive submissions.
However, once a case is submitted, the Registrar shall "upon receipt" [Rule 25(2)(c)] transmit copies of it to the judges of the Court [Rule 35 (1)] and all relevant parties in terms of Rule 35 (2). While no exact time period is laid down, the effect of Rule 25 (2) (c) is to stress on immediacy.
The Respondent, and any other interested party as detailed in Rule 35 (2), on the other hand, has very specific time limits to comply with. Upon receipt of the application, they must notify the Registrar of their representatives' names and addresses within 30 days. [Rule 35 (4)]
And within 60 days (unless otherwise ordered by the Court), the Respondent must file his reply to the application. (Rule 37).
A submission can only be made in terms of Rule 33, in accordance with Article 5 of the Protocol as read with Article 34 (6), by
Upon receipt of a submission, the Registrar shall establish authenticity thereof (Rule 25), register it, and acknowledge receipt (Rule 36). He shall make necessary copies and translations (Rule 25) and shall transmit a copy to the other party, to the President and Members of Court, as well as to other organs as may be necessary (Rule 35). He shall require the parties to file their pleadings in terms of the rules (Rule 25). And when these are concluded, will notify the parties of the date of hearing (Rule 42).
The Applicant shall be entitled to receive acknowledgment of his application (Rule 36), and to his application being copied, translated and transmitted to the persons/organs entitled to receive the same (Rules 25 and 35). He shall be entitled to be notified of any request for him to file further documents or pleadings (Rules 39 and 41), and to be informed of the date of a hearing (Rule 42) or other disposal of his application (Rule 38). He shall be obliged to comply with the rules and any requests or directions by the Court (Rule 41).
Conversely, the Respondent shall be entitled to receive any application against him and to be accorded the opportunity to reply (Rule 35 and 37). He shall also be entitled to be notified of the date of hearing or any request order or direction of the Court and shall be expected to comply therewith (Rules 39 and 41).