1. Madam Chair, this Report describes my activities in my capacity as member of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission), and Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS), and Migrants, since the 46th Ordinary Session of the African Commission.
2. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur was established at the 36th Ordinary Session of the African Commission held in Dakar, Senegal, from 23 November to 5 December 2004.
3. I was sworn in as Commissioner of the African Commission during the 46th Ordinary Session of the African Commission held in Banjul, The Gambia, from 11 November ACHPR/Res160(XLVI)09 adopted during the 46th Ordinary Session of the Commission, I appointed as Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Internally Commissioner Bahame Tom Mukiya Nyanduga.
4. My Report is divided into two parts. Part I covers my activities as Special Rapporteur during the period under review. Part II is divided into three sections. Section I covers my activities as Commissioner. Section II gives an overview of the status of refugees on the continent and Section III provides for the conclusions and recommendations.
Ombudsman Culture and Human Rights in a Changing Society
9. On 17 and 18 December 2009, I organized, through the Egyptian Ombudsman Office, which I chair, an international conference entitled "Ombudsman Cultural Dialogue and Human Rights in a Changing Society". It was held in Cairo and 15 Ombudsman Institutions from Africa, Asia, and Europe participated. It was also attended by a considerable number of distinguished international personalities.
10. Dr. Boutros-Ghali, Chairman of the Egyptian Council for Human Rights, inaugurated the conference and Hon. Commissioner Mumba Malila, Deputy Chairperson of the ACHPR, honoured us by his presence.
11. The Conference examined the regional cooperation between Ombudsman Institutions, more specifically, the African and European experiences through the ”African Ombudsman Association" and the "European Ombudsman Institution". It also studied the role of Ombudsman Institutions with regards to societal changes generated by globalization, war against terrorism, and crises such as the food, financial and environmental crises.
Promoting the African Commission
12. There was a wide coverage in the Egyptian press on my appointment as Commissioner of the African Commission. Such coverage extended to my appointment as a Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa.
13. I was interviewed by Al-Ahram newspaper (which has the widest distribution in Egypt). I took the opportunity to promote the work of the Commission and explained the guarantees spelled out in the African Charter for Human and Peoples’ Rights.
14. I was also interviewed by another newspaper and I appeared on the television on
15. I noticed that in Egypt as well as in most North-African countries, people know very little about the Commission. It would be useful for the Commission to explore the possibility of combining and coordinating activities with independent institutions in these countries such as National Human Rights Institutions to attract media coverage and disseminate information about the Commission and its work to the public.
Establishing the Arab Ombudsman Organization
15. Madam Chair, On 24 December, 2009, the Chairperson of the Ombudsman Institutions in he Kingdom of Morocco, Republic of Tunisia, Republic of Algeria, federal Republic of Sudan, Republic of Djibouti, Republic of Mauritania, Republic of Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Republic of Egypt and El Bahrain met in Cairo and agreed to establish an entity that unites them and coordinates their efforts.
16. The organization’s objectives are to share information and experiences, undertake research, organize trainings, and promote and spread a culture of human rights. The organization also aims at consolidating democracy, strengthening the pillars of good governance and encouraging the establishment of Ombudsman Institutions in countries that have not yet done so. It was agreed that the organization’s headquarters will be located in Cairo and I was elected as its chairman.
Conference in Paris on Human Rights Universal Principles and Regional Guarantees
17. On 1 February 2010, I participated in a conference in Paris entitled "Human Rights Universal Principles and Regional Guarantees" which was organized by Mr. Jean Paul Delovoye, the French Republic’s mediator, in collaboration with Pantheon Assas University in Paris and the Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC.
18. Institutions and organizations from 57 countries participated in the conference, including Ombudsman Institutions, mediators, and national and other independent human rights institutions from member states of the Council of Europe and of the League of Arab States. Representatives also attended the conference from the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, the International Organization of the Francophonie, the Council of Europe, the League of Arab States and the European Ombudsman Institute (E.O.I).
19. During this conference, participants had a constructive dialogue on the concepts of universalism and relativism of human rights by focussing on the issue of the death penalty, gender discrimination, freedom of speech and other related issues. As the conference dealt with regional guarantees, it was a good opportunity for me to explain that two third (2/3) of the Arab World is composed of African citizens gathered in 10 African countries, members of the African Union. Consequently, they can enjoy the guarantees of the African Charter since all African and Arab countries in Africa have signed and ratified this instrument.
Celebrating 50 years since the creation of the African Association
20. Madam Chair On 4 May, 2010, I was invited to lecture at the African Association in Cairo, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary since its creation. The central topic of my presentation was on the African Charter and other instruments of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights.
21. After the lecture, the question of dividing Africa into South Sahara and North Sahara was raised. I explained how colonial powers were keen to see Africa divided and how they tried to make us believe that the Sahara is a barrier between South and North Africa. But the old African leaders were able to overcome all the difficulties and to unite Africa by establishing the Organization of African Unity and were able to prove to the world that the Sahara can be a bridge and not a barrier. I revealed my worries that the concept of Sahara as a barrier is coming back to our minds and unfortunately some of us are accepting this as a fact.