African Commission Monitor - Issue 1 2013
MAY, 2013





53rd Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

9-22 April, 2013

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights is an expert body established by the African Union to monitor, promote and protect human rights in African States. The 53rd Ordinary session of the Commission was held in Banjul in The Gambia from 9 to 22 April. It was preceded by a three day NGO Forum (5 to 8 April) which brought together human rights defenders from across the continent and beyond. The Forum aims to bring human rights concerns to the attention of the Commission in a bid to increase the protection and promotion of rights through the mechanism... more


Key Developments

Commission fails to take necessary steps to protect human rights defenders from attacks and reprisals

For the first time at an Opening Ceremony of the Ordinary session of the Commission, the Chair publicly condemned reprisals against those that cooperate with the mechanism... more


No State reports presented during the session

A worrying precedent was set during this African Commission Ordinary Session by the lack of any review of a State’s human rights record... more

Limited response by African Commission to NGO calls

The NGO Forum, held in the days ahead of the Commission session, provides an opportunity for human rights defenders to debate means to advance a range of human rights concerns, including through the African Commission... more

Focus by international and regional mechanisms on Eritrea prompts State response

The human rights situation in Eritrea received some attention during both the NGO Forum and informal meetings held around the African Commission session... more

Commission’s response to Mali indicates potential for greater response to conflicts

At the end of the Ordinary session, the Commission announced its intention to send a fact-finding mission to Mali in early June 2013... more

Chairperson condemns violence and discrimination on any grounds

The NGO Forum called upon the Commission to condemn discrimination and violence against people on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation, and to call on State parties to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of such violations... more

The Chair speaks of the Commission as an ‘innovator’ in human rights

With the launch of two new Commission documents, the Chair characterized the Commission as ‘an innovator’ in the development of human rights standards... more



ISHR calls for Commission to step up its response to attacks against defenders

ISHR called upon the Commission to show it is serious about ending reprisals against those who cooperate with the mechanism. In a statement on reprisals, ISHR urged the Commission to establish a means for systematically recording, reporting on and following up on cases of reprisals... more

ISHR welcomes Commission initiative focusing on the situation of women defenders

ISHR welcomed the initiative on women defenders by the Special Rapporteur, and noted that it would play its part in supporting the work of the Commission by disseminating the Commission’s recommendations, and demanding that member States fulfill their obligations to ensure women defenders across the continent can work without harm or hindrance... more

Commission must improve its ways of working to hold States to account

The Commission must amend its ways of working to enable NGO engagement with the mechanism, with the overall objective of holding States to account for their human rights obligations under the African Charter... more


To encourage the development of the overall human rights system in the continent, ISHR called upon the Commission to ensure that it only permits national human rights institutions (NHRIs) of the highest caliber to participate at its sessions. ISHR noted that whilst 22 NHRIs are accredited to speak during the Commission session, only 15 NHRIs across the continent are fully compliant with principles of independence, impartiality and transparency (known as the ‘Paris Principles’)... more

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