President Emmerson Mnangagwa, of Zimbabwe has declared that his government will ratify the Protocol establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
President Mnangagwa declared: “We will act…we do not want to be left behind. Zimbabwe strongly cherishes and values the Pan Africanism and the organs that exemplify this ideal. We will ratify the protocol”.
He wondered why Zimbabwe had not already done so earlier. Zimbabwe signed the Protocol in 1998, but is yet to ratify it and make the Declaration under Article 34(6) to allow its citizens to access the African Court directly.
President Mnangagwa gave the assurance when he received a delegation of the African Court led by its President, Justice Sylvain Oré, which included; Judge Justice Tujilane Rose Chizumila and senior Registry officials, at State House in Harare.
The African Court delegation was in Zimbabwe on a sensitization visit at the invitation of the government.
The delegation also 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 also participated in a national sensitization seminar organised by the African Court.
“The sensitization visit to Zimbabwe was positive and fruitful,’’ said Justice Oré. The visit has helped to raise awareness of the Continental Court’s existence.
He said for the Africa Continental Court to discharge its mandate effectively and further strengthen the continent’s human rights system, a greater number of countries must ratify the Protocol and make the Declaration under Article 34(6).
He said since the adoption of the Protocol in June 1998, 30 out of 55 African Union Member States had ratified it, but only nine State Parties to the Protocol made the Declaration under Article 34(6).
He identified the countries as: Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin, The Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Malawi, Tanzania, and Tunisia.
The African Court was established by virtue of Article 1 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to complement the protective mandate of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, with a view to enhancing the protection of human rights on the continent.
Statistics available to the Ghana News Agency indicate that as at July 2019, the African Court had received 220 applications of which 62 were finalised.
The African Court is composed of eleven Judges, nationals of Member States of the African Union elected in their individual capacity.
The Court meets four times a year in Ordinary Sessions and may hold an Extra-Ordinary Sessions.