Basic Information

The African Court in Brief

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights is the judicial arm of the African Union and one of the three regional human rights courts together with the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human rights. It was  established to protect the human and peoples’ rights in Africa principally through delivery of judgments. The Court has its permanent seat in Arusha, the United Republic of Tanzania.

Establishment of the Court

The 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’ Rights (the Protocol). The Protocol establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights was adopted on 9 June 1998 in Burkina Faso and came into force on 25 January 2004 after it was ratified by more than 15 countries. The mandate of the Court is to complement and reinforce the functions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission – often referred to as the Banjul Commission), which is a quasi-judicial body charged with monitoring the implementation of the Charter.

The Court applies the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other human rights instruments ratified by the States concerned. It does not have criminal jurisdiction like the International Criminal Court.

Mandate

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights was  established to complement and reinforce the functions of the   African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission – often referred to as the Banjul Commission), which is a quasi-judicial body charged with monitoring the implementation of the Charter.

Mission

The Mission of the Court is to enhance the protective mandate of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights by strengthening the human rights protection system in Africa and ensuring respect for and compliance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, as well as other international human rights instruments, through judicial decisions.

Vision

The vision of the Court is an Africa with a viable human rights culture.

Core Values

The Court bases its core values on the African Charter and other internationally recognized principles of human rights and the promotion of the rule of law. The Court continues to foster and uphold the following core values:

  1. Judicial independence from any partisanship, bias, influence, whether it comes from States, NGOs, funding agencies or individuals.
  2. Fair and impartial application and interpretation of the provisions of the African Charter, the Protocol, the Rules and other relevant international human rights instruments.
  3. Transparent and ethical accountability in the operations of the Court.
  4. Fundamental rights of every individual to enjoy basic civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights are upheld.
  5. Collaboration with relevant stakeholders in pursuance of the Court’s objective of protecting human and peoples’ rights.
  6. Non-discrimination and equality in performance of the work of the Court.
  7. Integrity of the Judges and staff working at the Court.
  8. Provide equal access to all potential users of the Court.
  9. Be responsive to the needs of those who approach the Court.

The Strategic Objectives

The Court’s Strategic Objectives emanate from the mandate of the Court and include the following:

    1. Exercise jurisdiction in all cases and disputes brought before it concerning the interpretation and application of the Charter, the protocol and any other relevant human rights instruments ratified by the States concerned;
    2. Collaborate with sub-regional and national judicial bodies to enhance the protection of human rights on the continent;
    3. To enhance the participation of the African People in the work of the Court;
    4. To enhance the capacity of the Registry of the Court to be able to fulfil its mandate; and
    5. To enhance working relationship between the Court and the African Commission.

Ratification & Declaration

54 of the 55 Member States of the African Union (AU) have  ratified or acceded to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights with the exception of Morocco and have therefore committed themselves to respecting the principles set out therein.

Only 31 Member States have currently ratified the Protocol establishing the African Court. Out of these, only  six (6) States  have accepted the competence of the Court according to its Art. 34 (6), according to which individuals and NGOs can directly file cases to the African Court.
In the absence of such a Declaration, the application must be submitted to the Banjul Commission first, which may then – after preliminary examination – decide to refer the case to the Court.

The following 31 states have ratified the Protocol, the  ones in green have also deposited the Special Declaration:

Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Comoros, Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Lesotho, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Nigeria, Niger, Rwanda, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, South Africa, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Republic of Congo.

Ordinary Session

The Court  holds Ordinary Sessions, four times in a year, lasting for four weeks  usually in March, May, September and November, and  hold Extra-Ordinary Sessions if necessary. The sittings normally take place at the seat of the Court; however, the Court may decide to sit in the territory of any other Member State of the African Union

 

African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights | For Inquiries Contact » +255-27-970-430