77th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
Intersession Activity Report
The Working Group on Indigenous Populations/
Communities and Minorities in Africa
Honourable Commissioner Dr. Litha Musyimi-Ogana
The 20th of October - the 09th of November 2023
1.This Report is submitted under Rules 25 (3) and 64 of the 2020 Rules of Procedure of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (The Rules of Procedure),[ Rule 25(3)” …Each subsidiary mechanism shall present a report on its work to the Commission at each Ordinary Session of the Commission” and Rule 64 “Every member of the Commission shall submit a written report on the activities undertaken in the period between two such sessions at each Ordinary Session with public proceedings” ] as well as Section II(3)(d) of the Standard Operating Procedures on the Special Mechanisms of the Commission (Standard Operation Procedures;[ The Section reads that “…Within the scope of the identified thematic area and the resolution establishing the Special Mechanism, the general roles and responsibilities of Mandate Holders include: (a)..(b)…(c)….(d) Submitting reports at each Ordinary Session of the Commission]
2.The Report highlights the activities carried out in the period between and after the 75th Ordinary Session of the Commission (3rd to the 23rd of May 2023 in The Gambia) and reports on the general human rights situation of indigenous people.
3.This Report is divided into five parts, which include: (i) a report on the activities of the Working Group, (ii) a report on the activities undertaken as the Chairperson of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities and Minorities in Africa, (iii) a report on follow-up actions from the previous intersession report, (iv) plans for the next steps, and (v) a conclusion.
B.THE ACTIVITIES OF THE WORKING GROUP
4.The Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities and Minorities in Africa has actively engaged in various activities to promote and protect the rights and well-being of indigenous populations and communities. It has continued to perform its activities as scheduled in the Annual Work Plan of the Commission for the year 2023 and fulfilling the recommendations of the Commission during the 75th Ordinary Session as follows: -
(a)Appointment of the Expert Members of the Working Group
5.During the 75th Ordinary Session, the Commission appointed an expert member from the Southern Africa Sub-region under Resolution ACHPR/RES.553 (LXXV) 2023. Under the same Resolution, the Commission recommended that the Secretariat re-advertise the call for applications of expert members to fulfil the geographical representation requirements stipulated by the SOPs on Special Mechanisms to appoint an Expert Member from the North African sub-region, who was missing. The Secretariat took care of this. A call for one expert member from Northern Africa was made, and during this session, we shall finalize the appointment.
(b)Internal Meeting of the Working
6.During the intersession period, the Working Group held its first internal meeting. This meeting, among other things, aimed to orient its members and discuss the group's mandate and activities as planned for this year. This meeting served as an opportunity for the members to familiarize themselves with the goals and objectives of the Working Group. I chaired this meeting supported by the Secretariat virtually on the 28th of July, 2023.
(c)Continental Workshop on the Status of Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa
7.During the intersession period, to adhere to its annual work plan for 2023, the Working Group successfully conducted a virtual Continental Workshop on the Status of Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa. This Continental Workshop brought together various stakeholders, including state representatives, indigenous representatives, researchers, civil society organizations, and international organizations, to discuss and map out the indigenous communities on the continent. The workshop focused on various aspects, such as indigenous knowledge, cultural and traditional practices, art and music, production systems, traditional leadership, environmental resilience, and livelihoods. The aim was to unlock the potential of indigenous communities, empower them, and create development opportunities.
8.Top priorities were identified during the workshop, including remote health for indigenous communities and the setting of indigenous community/population clusters. These priorities will be reported on and validated during a workshop scheduled for November 2023. Moreover, during this session, we shall have a panel discussion to bridge the outcomes of the Continental Workshop and the upcoming validation session.
C.Activities Done by the Chairperson of the Working Group and as a Member of the Commission
9.As a Chairperson of the Working Group, together with the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR), we addressed the Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat to discuss facilitating cross-border trade under the AfCFTA through African indigenous languages. We expressed the willingness of ACHPR to collaborate with the AfCFTA Secretariat and the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN) to champion the use of indigenous languages at cross-border posts for the AfCFTA. We indicated that the initiative aims to support the AU Theme of the year on accelerating the implementation of the AfCFTA, promoting better integration and facilitating the free movement of people across language borders.
I have approached Walter Sisulu University to partner in rolling out this initiative, with the Commission leading the participation of other African Union Organs while the WSU will be leading the Academic aspect of the initiative.
10.I participated at the Rivonia Trial 60th Commemoration on 29 September 2023, representing the Commission on a Public Lecture held at Lilies Farm, the site that Nelson Mandela and nine others used as a hideout. When he was arrested, leading to the Rivonia Trial, I addressed the importance and significance of the Rivonia Trial in the struggle for human rights in South Africa. I used the time to highlight the lessons learned from the trial, such as the pursuit of equality, leadership and sacrifice, international solidarity, and the foundation for reconciliation and healing. I emphasized the ongoing challenges in the journey for human rights and called for a recommitment to the principles championed by those involved in the Rivonia Trial.
11.During the margins of this 77th ordinary Session, I attended and intervened in the panel discussion on the status of indigenous people. As part of my contributions, I reminded of pressing issues of concern to indigenous Population/Communities in Africa while highlighting the programs the Working Group have like a pilot on Remote Health.
D.Report on Follow-up actions from the Previous Intersession Report
12.During the intersessional period, the Working Group continued to monitor the situation of indigenous communities and minorities in Africa. The Working Group remains concerned about the disregard of the rights of indigenous groups and minorities by some member states, which continues to prevail even after due recognition region-wise of the rights of the indigenous people in the framework of the African Commission, some State constitutional provisions and court judgments issued by these States or regionally;
13.In particular, some Governments provide a very minimal response. I hope to continue to engage them through mechanisms available under the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights to ensure restitution of the rights of indigenous/minorities;
14.With this observation, allow me now to single out the status report from the previous intercessional activity report as follows; -
(i)The Aftermath of the African Court's Judgment on Reparations, in Application No.006/2012 (the Ogiek Case)
15.While we remain seized with this matter, I wish to report that, to date, the Commission has not received any official communication regarding implementing this decision from the Government of Kenya. We are still following to see the end to this matter that we all celebrated;
(ii)The Situation of Benet Mosopisyek Community in the Republic of Uganda following the Press Statement of the 04th of October 2022
16.The Commission noted, with concerns, the allegations of violence, intimidation, threats, sexual assault, destruction and confiscation of property, and the forceful eviction of the Mosopisyek community of Benet in and around the Mount Elgon region in Uganda. The Commission called on the Government of the Republic of Uganda to take immediate and long-term measures to ease the situation of these people. The Working Group have yet to receive any response from the Government, but notifications of continuous harassment of this community, just a few days after addressing the Government. We are still following this matter and hope to get responses from the Government during this session.
(iii)The Amazgh and Kabylia of Algeria and the whereabouts of the 300 Kabyles
17.During the 75 Ordinary Session, when the issue was restated, the Commission received a response from the Government that had not received its letter on the 27th of September 2021 regarding the devastating effects of COVID-19 on the Amazigh indigenous populations, the arson attacks in the indigenous territory of Kabylia and the repression against the Amazighs, to which no response was provided.
18.The Commission followed through with the Secretariat's registry and resent that letter to the officer who raised it. The Commission is yet to receive a response to date.
E.Plans for the Next Steps
19.While the challenges in recognizing the rights of indigenous and minorities continue to remain something that not only must be forming our homework as a Working Group but the entire Commission agenda to promote and protect rights, we are prepared to continue to implement the mandates of the Working Group and in particular will do the following: -
(i)The Working Group will Finalize the appointment of the Expert Member from Northern Africa in line with the Commission Resolution ACHPR/RES.553 (LXXV) 2023;
(ii)The Working Group will, during the fourth quota, validate the Study on the Impact of COVID-19 on the Rights of Indigenous Populations in Africa;
(iii)The Working Group will continue its partnership with various stakeholders/partners as follows: -
(a)Minority Rights Group: to undertake the Study on the Rights of Minorities, following Resolution ACHPR/Res. 455 (LXVI) 2020, adopted at the 66th Ordinary Session of the Commission, by which its mandate was extended to include the rights of minorities;
(b)The United House of Ancestors (UHOA) on a Remote Health Initiative for Indigenous Populations/Communities;
(c)The Walter Sisulu University in advancing the use of local languages by AfCFTA at cross borders.
F.Conclusions and Recommendations
20.In rolling out our obligation/mandate to promote human rights generally and the human rights of indigenous people and minorities, I call on for collaboration from stakeholders, member states, Civil societies and individual experts from different carder;
21.To the governments, I urge full and effective implementation of state obligations under the African Charter;
22.To National and International Organisations, on behalf of the Working Group, I extend sincere appreciation for the support that it receives from its partners in the execution of its mandate and calls for continuous collaboration and unrelenting commitment to the efforts of promoting and protecting indigenous rights on the continent. I wish to take this opportunity to invite support from other organizations working on the rights of indigenous communities and minorities in Africa to provide financial and technical support to many of the pending projects and activities of the Working Group.