ISHR staff have been at the African Commission 57th session in the Gambia, advocating on the protection of human rights defenders and the need to uphold the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly... view pictures here
Updates on State reviews at the 57th African Commission session
During the 57th session of African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), four State periodic reports were considered: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Kenya and Sierra Leone. ISHR took a keen interest in issues regarding civil society space, human rights defenders (HRDs) as well as reprisals, the extractives sector and freedom of expression and access to information.
The ACHPR Commissioners questioned the countries on the legal as well as practical steps they took to facilitate the human rights work of civil society on their territory. Issues of concern such as massive enforced disappearances in Algeria, but also encouraging steps forward such as Burkina Faso new Mining Code were raised during the dialogue... more
AFRICAN COMMISSION: STRENGTHEN WORKING GROUP CONSULTATIONS BY ENSURING THE PARTICIPATION OF BUSINESS REPRESENTATIVES
The Working Group on extractive industries, the environment and human rights should continue to hold sub-regional consultations that include stakeholders such as human rights defenders in the extractive sector, ISHR has said in a statement delivered to the 57th ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)... more
PROTECT AND CONSOLIDATE CIVIL SOCIETY SPACE WITHIN THE AFRICAN COMMISSION
ISHR expressed concern at the numerous statements given by civil society organisations at the NGO Forum, illustrating the growing trend of attacks against civil society space at both the national level and the Commission level.‘Civil society space within the African Commission proceedings must be protected and consolidated,’ said Clément Voulé, Head of ISHR’s Africa Programme... more
AFRICAN COMMISSION: TAKE CONCRETE STEPS TO IMPLEMENT STUDY ON WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
The ACHPR must pressure States to implement the recommendations of the study on the situation of women human right defenders (WHRDs) in Africa and to ‘establish a transparent and publicly accessible database for recording attacks against WHRDs and for facilitating follow-up by governmental, non-governmental and community-based actors, while also recognising the need to respect the right to privacy of survivors,’ ISHR has said in a statement delivered to the African Commission’s 57th ordinary session... more
DETERIORATING HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN BURUNDI
ISHR, along with a group of at least ten leading non-governmental organisations, has sent an open letter calling on the UN Human Rights Council to hold a special, emergency session to address the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation and prevent further atrocities in Burundi... more
END CRACKDOWN ON CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS IN ANGOLA
Civil society activists from Angola denounced the ongoing and increasing restrictions, in law and in practice, they face in the country, such as mandatory and cumbersome registration requirements, limitation of access to foreign fundings, etc. As a result, the human rights work of civil society in the country and cooperation with the ACHPR are seriously impeded and threatened... more
AFRICAN CIVIL SOCIETY DISCUSSES NEXT STEPS TO PROTECT FREE COMMUNICATION WITH ACHPR
ISHR co-organised an event on reprisals during the NGO Forum that preceded the 57th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR). At the event, civil society from across Africa discussed a new policy against intimidation and reprisals developed by the Commission’s expert on human rights defenders... more
ANNOUNCEMENTS OF AFRICAN COMMISSION WORKING GROUP CHAIRPERSONS AND COUNTRY RESPONSIBILITIES
Commissioner Faith Pansy Tlakula
Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression and access to information
Countries: Lesotho, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Burundi, South Sudan
Commissioner Soyata Maiga
Chairperson of the Working Group on indigenous populations/communities
Chairperson of Committee for the prevention of torture in Africa
Countries: Ethiopia, Liberia, Sudan and Ghana
Commissioner Jamesina King
Chairperson of the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Countries: The Gambia, Zimbabwe, Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER PROFILE
NORA BOWIER FROM LIBERIA
Ms Nora Bowier is the Programme Coordinator of Liberian Sustainable Development Institute. As she strongly believes that Liberian communities have the right to benefit from the country’s natural resource wealth, she is focused on community participation in decision-making processes... more
NEW APPOINTMENTS AT THE AFRICAN COMMISSION
AFRICAN COMMISSION WELCOMES NEW CHAIRPERSON
Commissioner Faith Pansy Tlakula from South Africa was elected to the position of Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) at the ACHPR 57th session. She replaces Commissioner Zainabo Sylvie Kayitesi, from Rwanda, who remains the ACHPR Chairperson of the Working Group on the death penalty and extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary killings in Africa.
Commissioner Tlakula has previously worked as the ACHPR Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression and access to information. In this role, she has been tasked with analysing Member States' media laws and policies, and reports on violations of press freedom. Most recently, she has called on Member States to adopt laws that permit access to information. Commissioner Tlakula will continue to serve in this mandate while taking on her new role as Chairperson of the ACHPR.
NEW CHAIRPERSON OF THE WORKING GROUP ON EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES, ENVIRONMENT AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
Commissioner Dr Solomon Ayele Dersso was to the role of Chairperson of the Working Group on extractive industries, environment and human rights violations at the same session. He replaces Commissioner Pacifique Manirakiza from Burundi. The mandate of the Working Group calls for it to, amongst other things, examine the impact of extractive industries in Africa within the context on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Commissioner Dr Dersso is a legal scholar and a known analyst of security and current affairs in Africa. He initiated and launched a new yearly publication called the Annual Review of the Peace and Security Council, for which he was awarded the Institute for Security Studies Innovation Award in 2014. Commissioner Dr Dersso is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of African Union Studies and recently served as a legal advisor to the African Union High Level Panel on Sudan Team of Experts on the Border Disputes between Sudan and South Sudan.
He attained his PhD degree from the School of Law University of Witwatersrand in 2009. His research interests include the African Union system and international and African law.
NEW COMMISSIONER AND CHAIRPERSON FOR THE WORKING GROUP ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
Commissioner Jamesina Essie Leonora King is the first Sierra Leonean woman to be sworn in as a Commissioner of the ACHPR. She took her oath during the 57th ordinary session. Her appointment coincides with the Government of Sierra Leone presenting its first combined State periodic report before the Commission. ISHR welcomes her election and sees it a positive step, illustrating her Government’s commitment to human rights.
In 2007, Commissioner King was the first Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) and she served in that capacity for two years. She is currently serving her second and final term as Commissioner for the HRCSL.
Prior to this, she has worked as a private legal practitioner in a law firm from 1994 to 2006. The Commissioner is a strong advocate of women’s empowerment, peace, security and gender equality.
She holds a postgraduate degree from Georgetown University Law Centre, Washington D.C. and a certificate in “Implementing Human Rights Conventions” from the University of Nottingham Human Rights Law Centre in the UK. She is a leadership advocate for Women in Africa (LAWA), a Fellow and past President of Legal Access through Women Yearning for Equality Rights and Social Justice, an organisation of female lawyers in Sierra Leone dedicated to enhancing women’s access to justice.