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The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission), in its Resolution ACHPR Res. 273 (LV) 2014, extended the scope of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa to include reprisals against persons cooperating with the African human rights system and appointed the Special Rapporteur as Focal Point on Reprisals with the following key responsibilities:
i. Gathering information on and effectively addressing cases of reprisals against civil society stakeholders;
ii. Documenting and maintaining a database on cases of reprisals brought to the attention of the mechanism;
iii. Providing guidance to the Commission on urgent measures to deal with specific cases of reprisals;
iv. Presenting reports on cases of reprisals at each Ordinary Session of the Commission in the Special Rapporteur’s Activity Report;
v. Ensuring a follow-up of registered cases.

It is worth recalling that this Resolution was adopted following multiple reports of continued restrictions on civic space in Africa and the hostile environment in which those cooperating with the African human rights system were working.

Reports had thus revealed the multiple violations of their fundamental rights, such as arbitrary arrests and detentions, acts of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, summary and extrajudicial killings, acts of harassment of all kinds, including judicial harassment, threats and other forms of intimidation, miscarriage of justice and denial of access to medical attention during detention.

The purpose of this document is therefore to fill an existing gap in this area. Its main objective is to provide the various stakeholders with a reference framework for interacting with and assisting the mechanism in the successful performance of its mission.

Indeed, since the extension of the scope of its mandate, there has not been much focus on the reprisal aspect of the mechanism in spite of the significant efforts deployed by our predecessors in this area.

One of the reasons for this shortcoming was the lack of adequate documentation on how to effectively approach and develop a full understanding of this new thematic area, which is still relatively unknown to African human rights defenders and to other actors working with the African human rights system.

Following our appointment as mandate holder, our aim was not to rebuild from the ground up, but on the contrary, to pursue the efforts already made by our predecessors by reviewing documents previously prepared with the assistance of our various partners, in particular the International Service for Human Rights, and which have been validated by the Commission so as to make the necessary amendments for their publication, in accordance with the recommendations of the Commission.

This work has now been completed and we are pleased to present Fact Sheet No. 1 on Reprisals in Africa.

We hope that this document will be useful to anyone who wishes to cooperate with the mandate in this area, so that reprisals will no longer be an obstacle to the promotion and effective protection of human rights on the continent.

Prof. Rémy Ngoy Lumbu
Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and Focal Point on Reprisals in Africa

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