The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights establishes a regional human rights body, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), with the mandate to promote the observance of the Charter, ensure the protection of the rights and freedoms set out in the Charter, interpret the Charter and advise on its implementation.
Article 5 of the African Charter provides that every individual shall have the right to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being and to the recognition of his legal status. All forms of exploitation and degradation of man and particularly slavery, slave trade, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment shall be prohibited.
At the 28th Ordinary Session of the African Commission, the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), an international NGO enjoying Observer Status to the African Commission and committed to working internationally to tackle the global problem of torture and ill-treatment, proposed to the African Commission to hold a joint workshop in order to formulate concrete measures which would be taken for effective implementation of the provisions of Article 5 of the African Charter.
The workshop was held, from 12 to 14 February 2002, on Robben Island, a symbolic place for Africa, where Nelson Mandela and other activists against the South African Apartheid regime were detained for many years. This meeting drew together African and international experts from a variety of backgrounds. These joint efforts led to the successful drafting of comprehensive guidelines and measures for the prohibition and prevention of torture and ill-treatment in Africa, called “Robben Island Guidelines”.