Catherine Dupe Atoki / Commissioner


1. In discharging my mandate as a Commissioner to promote and protect the rights of Africans, I had during the intersession between November 2009 to May 2010, undertaken promotion  mission, attended meetings and conferences, sent letters to Presidents and other Government actors concerning alleged or actual violations of human rights within the States concerned.

2. Between the 14 and 18 December 2009, I was part of the team of Commissioners that conducted a promotion mission to the Peoples’ Democratic Republic of Algeria. The objective of that Mission was to initiate dialogue with the Algerian State and other stakeholders involved with the promotion and protection of human rights. The Mission provided me an opportunity to be exposed to the various human rights issues including challenges facing the Government of Algeria in complying with the African Charter. The Report of the Mission upon adoption by the African Commission will be made available to the State and the public.

3. During the electoral campaign in the Republic of Sudan, I received several reports of alleged violations of human rights including torture, unlawful arrest and detention. As the  Commissioner in charge of the promotion of human rights in the Republic of Sudan, as well as the Chairperson of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa, I wrote a letter to the President of the Republic of The Sudan – His Excellency Omar Hassan Al Bashir, on 16 December 2009 drawing his attention to the said allegations and calling for prompt investigation. I also requested for a Report of the findings of this investigation. Unfortunately, as at this moment, the Government of the Republic of The Sudan has not responded to my letter and appeal.

4. From the 22 February to 3 March 2010, I attended the 8th Extra-Ordinary Session of the Commission in Banjul, The Gambia. In that Session, the Commission considered comments from States Parties to the African Charter and other stakeholders on its Draft Rules of Procedure and incorporated pertinent comments as appropriate. The African Commission hopes to adopt the final version of its Rules of Procedure at this 47th Ordinary Session.

5. I also attended a Meeting organized by the African Union Commission (AUC) in consultation with other AU Organs/Institutions and RECs on developing a Human Rights Strategy for Africa, from 11-13 March 2010 in Banjul, The Gambia. The Meeting sought to establish a common platform for articulating Africa’s position in shaping the human rights architecture and its relationship in evolving a general Human Rights Strategy. It reviewed the mapping document on the African Human Rights System and the roadmap towards establishing the Human Rights Strategy I just mentioned. The Meeting also resolved that the process towards the formulation of the African Human Rights Strategy should be intensified and accomplished within the set time frame; and that the Human Rights Strategy constitute part of the Shared Values of the African Continent, which should input into the AU Summit in January 2011.

6. At the end of the 3-day Meeting, it was agreed that another Meeting to finalise a Draft Report will be convened at the margins of this 47th Ordinary Session. We also agreed that the African Union Commission should finalize the mapping document on the human rights landscape in Africa, and prepare a draft framework of the human rights strategy.

7. Madam Chair, I was also invited by the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, Abuja Nigeria, to attend the induction into the Hall of Fame of the former Chief Justice of India P. N. Bhagwati who is well known for his advancement of the principles of public interest litigation in India. The Institute also seeks to promote the justiceability of socio-economic rights in Nigeria.

8. In pursuance of my general mandate to promote the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, I conceived the idea to popularise the Charter through the serialisation of its Articles in Nigerian newspapers. Thus, in February 2010, I was granted a space in This Day newspaper - one of the widely read newspapers in Nigeria to expound on each Article of The African Charter and supported same with decisions of the African Commission where applicable. The monthly column dedicated to this effect has as at the moment published two series. The serialisation of each Article continues.

9. In furtherance also of the mandate to popularise the African Charter, thereby educating citizen of their rights, during the inter-session, I wrote articles for publication in various widely read Nigerian newspapers on the human rights perspective on a number of human rights themes, including issues of the death penalty, unconstitutional change of government and terrorism.

10. Madam Chair, the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria is defective in its constitution and legal framework. The Commission as it currently stands has limited powers and its independence is not assured by law. The lack of independence led to the downward review of its status to Category B by the International Coordinating Committee of National Human  ights Institutions. Cognisant of its non-compliance with the Paris Principle, a bill to rectify this anomaly was presented to the National Assembly and has remained unattended for the last six years. Until December 2009 when the Senate passed the Bill, it remains pending before the House of Representatives. The Commission has consequently functioned without  commissioners since 2007. In my capacity as a Commissioner of the African Commission resident in Nigeria, on the 16 April 2010, I wrote a letter to the Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives – Honourable Oladimeji Bankole, drawing his attention to the Bill pending before the House, urging for an expedited action to pass same, in order to empower the Nigerian Human Rights Commission to discharge its mandate effectively.

11. I also participated in a meeting of the AU Organs on the Human Rights Strategy for Africa held in Banjul from the 10th and 12th May 2010. It was a follow up on the Meeting convened in March and it sought to concretise the gains from the earlier Meeting. The Meeting incorporated inputs from the AU organs and other experts and stakeholders on the mapping document and considered steps taken to implement the recommendations of the first Meeting. The Meeting came up with modalities for the development of the Human Rights Strategy for Africa as well as the Mapping document on the human rights landscape in Africa. A Draft Report was finalised and will have some more inputs from various stakeholders in readiness for its presentation to the Summit of Head of State and Government in January 2100. The Meeting also provided the basis for collective reflection on the theme of the January 2011 AU Summit, Shared Values. The Shared Values are the third pillar of the Strategic Plan of the AUC for 2009-2010. Under those Shared Values, Africa seeks to promote existing and agreed Values  cross the continent. These Values include good governance, democracy, respect of human rights, accountability and transparency.