Dear members of the Human Rights Community,
Dear members and friends of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights,
The year 2023, I strongly believe, will bring a sense of hope and excitement. It is important that we take a brief moment to look back at the achievements of last year. Our greatest achievement in 2022 was the continuous loyalty and dedication shown by the Hon. Judges, the registry staff and indeed all of the stakeholders of the Court. It was a year in which all of us took up the challenge to work towards the African Court we want! From Member States to PRC Members, AU organs, CSO’s, Judges, staff, and partners, everyone played their role in a professional way, focused solely on enhancing the protection of human rights on the continent. For all these and many more, we are enormously thankful.
On behalf of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, I extend New Year wishes to the public, partners and other human rights stakeholders. I would like to extend my best wishes to the family, friends and partners of the Court. It is my sincere belief that the year 2022 offered us the opportunity to reshape human rights justice in Africa. I acknowledge the Court’s outstanding merit of its work and invaluable contribution to the protection of human rights in Africa, the promotion of democracy and the rule of law as the foundation for peace and social harmony.
My message for this year is therefore a call for all stakeholders to build an alliance towards four main achievements: To pursue quality justice, strengthen inter-institutional cooperation, develop judicial diplomacy with other stakeholders, and enhance the visibility of the African court.
Strengthening inter-institutional cooperation of the bodies of the African Union vested with a human rights mandate is a requirement set out in the Protocol establishing the Court, with a view to fostering dynamic interaction between institutions working in the same field. It is the price for the promotion of human rights in Africa and the right of every person who considers that their rights have been violated and therefore have to be heard by our organs.
We have a great responsibility in this regard, and one of the ways to foster the hope of a better future in the implementation of human rights at both the continental and national levels is cooperation and active partnership. The Court will continue with the judicial dialogue that it has already begun with the high national courts, sub–regional courts and also regional human rights institutions. It will also collaborate with Member States in a closer framework and through diplomatic channels.
To enhance the visibility of the African Court to the member states, individual citizens, NGO’s and other human rights stakeholders is an ongoing objective of the Court. Although the ratification of the Protocol and deposition of Declaration are slower than expected, there is certainly ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.
The Court cannot achieve its goal without the overall support of the African Union as the intergovernmental umbrella organization. It will neither work alone without support from the member states. In this respect, I would like to take this opportunity to commend the African Union and Member States for the unwavering commitment in the year 2023 to engage in a constructive dialogue with the Court. African governments should renew their commitment to the original aim that led to the establishment of the African Court.
For that reason, we will continue to conduct sensitization visits to African Union member states in 2023. We will continue to develop our partnership with members states, donors, PRC, human rights stakeholders, etc. We will continue our engagement with our host country, Tanzania, to make sure that our Court building project becomes a reality. We will continue our drive towards international accreditations, and continue increasing our recognition and reputation as a continental human rights court, both at home and abroad.
The judicial work of the Court will not be effective without the input and commitment of all stakeholders, including the Member States of the African Union. That is the purpose of developing judicial diplomacy with other stakeholders. On this point, the challenges are numerous, as evidenced by the high percentage of decisions that remain unimplemented and the withdrawals of the Declaration by some States. The non-execution of the decisions of bodies vested with a human rights mandate by the States concerned is a threat to the human rights protection system in Africa. There is still time to initiate serious reflections on the future of our decisions in order to raise, through their effective implementation, the level of human rights protection, strengthen confidence in our institutions and to meet the challenges of our mission. This is the key to the success and credibility of our work.
It is also important to note that the protection of human rights cannot be fully realised without the active participation of African citizens and the support of non-governmental actors, who represent the people of Africa for whom and on whose behalf Member States established the African Court. African citizens should proactively engage with the Court directly and through the African civil society to ensure the effective protection of their rights and fundamental freedoms.
On behalf of our Court, I therefore call upon all of you to lend a hand in the realisation of the Court’s vision of creating a continent with a viable human rights culture in order to support the objectives of Agenda 2063 of the African Union. We are looking forward to working together to ensure we have a better African Court and a better Africa that we want. Let us move our world forward — with and for human rights. Let us continue to fight the battle, make the case for human equality, human dignity and human and peoples’ rights for one and all.
Finally, I would like to happily take this opportunity to once again wish all of you my best wishes of good health and to encourage you in every respect. May the year 2023 truly be for us a happy year full of blessings, happiness and success.
IMANI DAUD ABOUD
President of the African Court