European Union strengthens African human rights system

The African Union – European Union (AU-EU) Human Rights Dialogue, the EU signed a €1.8 million grant contract with the Pan-African Parliament (PAP). This was the last of a series of 5 contracts the EU is funding under €10 million action aimed at ‘Strengthening the African Human Rights System’ under the EU Pan-African Programme (PANAF).

The main objective of the contract with the PAP is to ensure that all AU Member States ratify, domesticate and implement the AU legal instruments in the field of good governance and human rights. The cooperation with Regional Economic Communities (RECs), national and regional Parliaments and the African Union Commission (AUC) would be crucial to effectively address this objective by using the PAP’s oversight, advisory and consultative functions. The contract also covers the cooperation with the European Parliament (EP) and the formulation of model laws in the field of good governance and human rights.

The other grant contracts were signed with the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC), the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR). A last contract provides support to these four thematic contracts via a dedicated Technical Assistance team.

The major objective of the project with the ACERWC is to enhance and strengthen the function of the ACERWC with a view of enabling the Committee to effectively deliver in accordance with its mandate. Specifically, the project aims at ensuring full ownership and implementation of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child at country level; introducing an integrated approach of protection and promotion of children’s rights in Africa; and creating an enhanced information flow and knowledge sharing platforms and tools on the African Children’s Charter.

Some of the major activities under the project include engaging State Parties on experience sharing and cross boarder issues affecting children’s rights in Africa, litigating on child rights issues including follow up on decisions of previous communications and concluding observations and recommendations.

The third contract, with ACHPR, is to improve the respect for human rights under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other relevant human rights instruments. The ACHPR will advocate for and monitor the implementation of instruments in the AU Member States.

The contract also concentrates on litigation, ensuring timely adjudication of complaints to the AfCHPR as well as diligent follow-up on compliance by the AU Member States. It will raise awareness to enable citizens to have a clear understanding of their rights and duties, document good practices in legal and policy reforms and undertake joint investigative missions.

The AfCHPR contract complements the previous one by concentrating on the streamlining of the Court’s processes to improve efficiency and understanding of the proceedings. The AfCHPR is also expected to reduce time for completion of cases and ensure adequate and timely compensation to victims. The AfCHPR will work to increase the number of ratifications of the Protocol on the establishment of the AfCHPR and the number of countries which have deposited the Article 34(6) declaration allowing individuals and civil society organisations direct access to the AfCHPR.