77th ORDINARY SESSION OF THE AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS
INTER-SESSION REPORT OF THE WORKING GROUP ON COMMUNICATIONS
(May to October 2023)
Presented by Honorable Commissioner Marie Louise Abomo
Chairperson of the Working Group on Communications
20 October – 9 November 2023
1.The Working Group on Communications (WGC or Working Group) was established by Resolution ACHPR/Res.194 (L) 11, pursuant to Rule 23 (1) and Rule 97 (2) of the Rules of Procedure of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) 2010.
2.At its 11th Extraordinary Session, held in Banjul, The Gambia from 21 February to 1 March 2012, the Commission adopted Resolution ACHPR/Res.212 (EXT.OS/XI)12 defining the mandate of the Working Group. Its various tasks have been extensively outlined in the previous reports of the Working Group.
3.This report, presented in accordance with Rules 25(3) and 64 of the Rules of Procedure of 2020, is structured as follows: A. Activities of the WGC; B. Communications considered during the reporting period; C. Communications pending before the Commission; D. Introduction of the opposition procedure; F. Challenges, Recommendations and Way forward.
A.Activities of the Communications Working Group
Meetings of the Communications Working Group
4.Unable to do so in person or virtually, the Working Group considered and adopted, by consultation between 25 December and 2 October 2023, four (4) complaints with requests for Provisional Measures or transfer to the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights (the Court). It also considered and adopted by consultation the request for guidance relating to a communication.
B.Communications examined during the reporting period
5.The Working Group recalls that at the 75th Ordinary Session, there were one hundred and ninety-seven (197) communications pending, namely:
a.Forty-three (43) on the Merits;
b.One hundred and fifty-one (150) at the Admissibility stage;
c.Three (3) communications at seizure stage.
d.One (1) request for review.
6.During the 75th Ordinary Session, the Commission considered and adopted nine (9) communications, seven (7) of which were finalised, namely:
a.Two (2) communications on the Merits;
b.Two (2) communications were declared inadmissible;
c.Three (3) communications were struck out.
7.The Working Group notes that, at the end of the 75th Ordinary Session, one hundred and ninety (190) communications were pending, namely:
a.Forty-two  on the Merits;
b.One hundred and forty-four  on Admissibility;
c.Three  at Seizure stage;
d.One (1) communication for review.
8.This number remained unchanged until the 76th Ordinary Session, during which the Commission analysed sixteen communications, thirteen (13) of which were finalised. Thus, at the end of the 76th ordinary session, 177 communications were pending, as follows:
a.Thirty-nine  on the Merits;
b.One hundred and thirty-five  at the Admissibility stage;
c.Three  at the Seizure stage;
d.One (1) communication for review.
9.Between the 76th and 77th Ordinary Sessions, nine (9) new communications were received, including one (1) with a request for Provisional Measures and transfer to the Court; one (1) with a request for provisional measures; and two (2) with a request for transfer to the Court.
10.Of the nine (9) new complaints, one (1) was not seized, six (6) were seized and two (2) are at the seizure stage pending additional information requested from the complainants. No Provisional Measures have been ordered in relation to the new communications, and the process of decision on the three (3) requests for transfer of complaints to the Court is ongoing.
C. Communications Pending before the Commission
11.The Working Group notes that one hundred and eighty-five (185) communications are currently pending, as follows:
a.Forty-three (42) on the Merits;
b.One hundred and forty (140) at the Admissibility stage;
c.One (1) application for Review;
d.Two (2) communications being prepared for Seizure.
12.With respect to communications submitted by States Parties, the situation has not changed with respect to the previous Intersession Report. Consequently, no communications Inter States is pending before the Commission.
D. Introduction of the opposition figure
13.The Working Group informs that at the 76th Ordinary Session, the Commission introduced, on its proposal, the mechanism of opposition, which notably allows States to assert their defence on communications where decisions have been rendered by default, when they can prove that they were never notified of the complainants' submissions or that they were not aware of the procedure concerned.
E. Challenges, recommendations and perspectives
14.The Working Group notes that notwithstanding the improvements, the challenges related to the limited funds allocated for the translation of communications and submissions by Parties, particularly to/from Arabic where most communications are in English and must be translated into Arabic, will still persist in the medium term because of the backlog of documents to be translated. The Parties' failure to meet the deadlines stipulated in the Commission's Rules of Procedure and the low rate of implementation of the Commission's decisions also persist.
15.The failure of the parties to comply with the time limits laid down in the Commission's rules of procedure and the low rate of implementation of the Commission's decisions also persist.
16.The Working Group
i.urges States Parties to implement Commission decisions and inform the Commission of all measures taken or in the process of being taken to implement decisions concerning them within the 180-day period provided for in Rule 112(2) of the Rules of Procedure (2010) and Rule 125(1) of the Rules of Procedure (2020);
ii.reiterates its request that all Parties to the Communications apply the relevant provisions of the Rules of Procedure, particularly with regard to the deadlines for submitting arguments and evidence at the different stages of the procedure;
iii.encourages parties to use the Standardised Complaint Forms available on the following Commission websites:
https://t.co/K6uvGhu2ZZ?amp=1 – English
https://t.co/w54RAKzmTW?amp=1 – French
https://t.co/Gt7lkcdg0f?amp=1 – Portuguese
v.refers Litigants to the Practice Directives on the temporal scope of the Rules of Procedure (2020), as long as they are not yet changed. The Practice Directives can be accessed on the Commission’s web pages:
https://t.co/wwxYJtcMdK?amp=1 – English
https://t.co/9nykd1IKir?amp=1 – French
https://t.co/WOQOuFBn3b?amp=1 – Portuguese
17.The WGC believes that its establishment was essential to ensuring streamlined and more efficient handling of Communications. However, the achievement of this objective still depends on the collaboration of all relevant stakeholders at the regional and national levels.
18.The Working Group believes that the complementarity between the Commission and the African Court is an important mechanism for strengthening the protection of human rights in Africa. For this purpose, the Commission has transferred three (3) Communications to the African Court.
19.The Working Group encourages the Secretariat to continue working towards completing the establishment of the transitional legal aid scheme of the Commission.
20.The Working Group is ready to cooperate with the high courts of the States Parties, national bar associations, research institutions and universities in the dissemination and popularisation of the Commission's jurisprudence and the procedure for the protection of the human and peoples’ rights.
21.The WGC, therefore, continues to gather diverse perspectives and suggestions from all stakeholders with a view to strengthening the fulfilment of its mandate and, by extension, to enhance the Commission’s mandate entrusted to it by the States Parties.
Thank you for your kind attention!