On 4 June 2012, a delegation of the German Parliamentary Group for East Africa visited the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Arusha. Led by honorable Patrick Meinhardt, the Director of the German Parliamentary Group for East Africa, members of the delegation visited the seat of the Court in order for them to know the Court and its operations.
In his welcome note to the guests, the President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Prof. Gerard Niyungeko, thanked them for their initiative to visit the Court and also expressed his appreciation to the Government of Germany for its support to the Court, through GIZ. Then, he briefed the visitors on the establishment of the Court, its functions and the progress it has made since it started its operations in 2006.
Niyungeko took the opportunity to mention the challenges faced by the Court in its operations. He mentioned, among other things, the fact that the Court is not largely known to the public and the fact that a few States have ratified the Protocol establishing the Court. Only 26 States out of 54 Member States of the African Union have ratified the Protocol and/or a very few of them –five only- (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, Mali and Tanzania) have made the special declaration allowing their citizens and NGOs to directly bring cases before the African Court. In order to remedy to that situation, the Court has undertaken sensitization programmes in various African countries that have ratified the Protocol to get them also make the special declaration. Countries that have not yet ratified the Protocol are also encouraged to do so.
Niyungeko also briefed the visitors on the project to merge the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights with the African Court of Justice to form the African Court of Justice and Human Rights and to extend the jurisdiction of the merged Court to include criminal matters such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The final text of the project of the broader African Court will be examined next month by the Summit of the African Heads of State and Government that will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The German Parliamentary Group for East Africa thanked the President of the Court and expressed the commitment of the German Government to continue support to the Court through GIZ. The delegation comprised of Honorable Patrick Meinhardt, the Director of the German Parliamentary Group for East Africa, Honorable Johannes Selle, Honorable Johannes Singhammer, Honorable Helmut Goeser of the German Bundestag, H.E. Klaus-Peter Brandes, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Tanzania, Mrs Gisela Habel, Head of Development Cooperation and Dagmar Traub-Evans.