PRESIDENT of Zimbabwe, Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa has given assurance that Harare will ratify the Protocol establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR).
A statement issued by the Court’s Registry and made available to the ‘Daily News’ said that the president gave the assurance, while receiving a delegation of the African Court led by its President, Justice Sylvain Oré in Arusha, recently.
“We will act…w e do not want to be left behind. We will ratify the protocol,’’ he was quoted as stating, adding that Zimbabwe strongly cherishes and values of Pan Africanism adding that the organs have exemplified the deal, and wondering why Zimbabwe had not already done so earlier.
Zimbabwe had signed the Protocol in 1998, but it was yet to ratify it and make the Declaration under Article 34(6), which allows its citizens to access the Court directly.
The African Court delegation was in Zimbabwe on a two-day sensitisation visit at the invitation of the government. The delegation included Justice Tujilane Rose Chizumila and senior registry officials, who met the president at the State House in Harare.
The delegation has already met key stakeholders, including the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Speaker, the Chief Justice, and the acting chairperson of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the Bar Association, among others. Over 50 key stakeholders attended the national sensitisation seminar followed by discussions.
The African Court delegation conducted a similar sensitisation visit last week to the Union of Comoros. The President of Comoros, Mr Azali Assoumani, hailed the work of the Court and also underscored the importance of human rights.
“We have just set up a Human Rights Commission and we want to ensure that all internal mechanisms are in place on exhaustion of local remedies,’’ he said, apparently in reference to a request made by the Court to make the Declaration under Article 34(6).
Comoros ratified the Protocol on establishment of the Court in December 2013, but it was yet to make the Declaration. “The sensitisation visits to these two countries (Comoros and Zimbabwe) have been very positive and fruitful.
These visits have helped to raise awareness on the Court’s existence,” said Justice Oré. For the Court to discharge its mandate effectively and further strengthen the African continent’s human rights system, Justice Oré said, a greater number of countries must ratify the Protocol and make the Declaration under Article 34(6).
Since the adoption of the Protocol in June 1998, 30 out of 5 AU Member States have ratified it, but only nine State Parties to the Protocol have made the Declaration under Article 34(6).
These are Burkina Faso, Benin, Ghana, Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Malawi, Tanzania, and Tunisia.