Benin, Côte D’Ivoire, Rwanda, and Tanzania have withdrawn the declaration allowing individuals and NGOs to directly go to the African Court when national tribunals are failing to provide justice to them. This is a setback for human rights as direct access to the African Court represents the last hope for justice for those who suffered from human rights violations and those fighting against injustice in their home country. Take action now and demand to Benin, Côte D’Ivoire, Rwanda, and Tanzania to redeposit the declaration allowing individuals and NGOs to bring cases to the Court.
The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights is the judicial arm of the African Union and has been a symbol of justice for many people since its creation. It aims to strengthen the human rights protection system in Africa and create a viable human rights culture in the continent. It is representing for many the last hope for justice.
Norbert Zongo, a famous investigative journalist from Burkina, two of his associates, and his brother were killed in December 1998. Zongo’s investigations into the death of François Compaoré (the then President’s brother)’s chauffeur may have placed him in the crosshairs of high officials. The Zongo family fought to obtain justice through the national courts for years, but the case was dismissed in 2006. Zongo’s family seized the African Court and in 2014, the Court rendered a judgment condemning Burkina Faso for having failed to ensure justice for Zongo, and then it ordered the State to pay financial reparations to the family of the journalist for the psychological suffering they endured, as well as to resume investigations to find, prosecute and try the perpetrators of Zongo’s murder. This judgment from the African Court created new hope for justice for the families and others. Burkina Faso did comply with the Court’s orders and in 2017, an international arrest warrant was issued against François Compaoré.
This has been possible because Burkina Faso has deposited the declaration allowing the Court to accept cases from individuals and NGOs which in turn enabled the family of Norbert Zongo to file the case with the Court.
They are many reasons why a State would not want the African Court to receive complaints by individuals.
All of them work against access to justice and the protection of human rights for all.
Benin, Côte D’Ivoire, Rwanda, and Tanzania have taken back a right that they had already afforded to their people. They have taken a huge step back for the protection of human rights.
We can change that.