Resolution on the Need to Protect Civic Space, Freedom of Association and Assembly in Africa - ACHPR/Res.569 (LXXVII) 2023


The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission), meeting at its 77th Ordinary Session held from 20 October to 9 November 2023, in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania:

Recalling the ACHPR’s mandate to protect and promote human and peoples’ rights in Africa under Article 45 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Charter);

Considering Article 1 of the Charter which calls on State Parties to this Charter to adopt legislative or other measures in order to implement the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Charter;

Recalling its Resolutions ACHPR/Res. 69 (XXXV) 2004 and ACHPR/Res.119 (XXXXII) 2007 on the situation of human rights defenders in Africa, Resolution ACHPR/RES. 336 (EXT.OS/XIX) 2016 on measures to protect and promote the work of women human rights defenders, and Resolution ACHPR/Res. 151(XLVI)2009 on the need for a study on freedom of association in Africa; 

Recalling also that the provisions of the African Charter, in particular article 9 on freedom of expression and access to information, article 10 on freedom of association, article 11 on freedom of peaceful assembly and demonstration, and article 13 on the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs; and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in its article 19 on freedom of expression, article 20 on freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and article 21 on the right to participate in the conduct of public affairs; 

Further recalling the UN Human Rights Council Resolution 13/13, which urges states to end and take concrete measures to prevent threats, harassment, violence and attacks by state and non-state entities against all those engaged in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms;

Recognizing that these freedoms, which constitute "civic space", are an essential element of a vibrant democracy; where debate and discussion flourish, and where individuals are able to contribute to important decisions that affect them; 

Concerned by the trend to restrict civic space in some countries, through restrictions on rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and demonstration, through hatred messages, incitement to violence, invasions of privacy and attacks on human rights defenders and journalists;

The Commission Calls on the Governments to:  
i.respect and protect human and peoples’ rights as enshrined in the Charter particularly the rights to freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of expression and access to information, and to comply with its human rights obligations under the said Charter and other relevant regional and international human rights instruments ratified; 
ii.refrain from any form of victimisation, harassment, intimidation and attack on human rights defenders and journalists, through the arbitrary use of the police and security forces; 
iii.carry out a thorough, transparent and rapid investigation into the acts of violence and crimes committed against human rights defenders, journalists and human rights defenders in order to identify the perpetrators and hold them accountable; 
iv.immediately cease repression and human rights violations against human rights defenders and journalists;

Done on 9th November 2023 in Arusha, Tanzania.