Special Rapporteur on Prisons, Conditions of Detention and Policing in Africa - 55OS



(NOVEMBER 2013 – APRIL 2014)



Commissioner Med S.K. Kaggwa



Presented at the 55th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

   Luanda, Angola


28 April – 12 May 2014




1.        This Report is submitted pursuant to Rules 23(3) and 72 of the Rules of Procedure of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission or the Commission), and covers activities which were conducted during the inter-session period between November 2013 and April 2014.


2.        The report details activities which I undertook in my capacity as a Member of the Commission, as the Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Conditions of Detention in Africa (the Special Rapporteur), and as a Member of the Working Group on the Death Penalty and Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary killings in Africa (the Working Group on the Death Penalty).


3.        The Report is divided into four parts:

  • Part I: Activities undertaken as a Member of the Commission;
  • Part II: Activities undertaken as the Special Rapporteur;
  • Part III: Activities undertaken as a Member of the Working Group on the Death Penalty and Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary killings in Africa;
  • Part IV: Conclusion and Recommendations.



Part I:            Activities undertaken as a Member of the Commission


4.        In my capacity as Member of the Commission, I participated in a series of activities aimed at the promotion and protection of human rights.


5.        On 03 December 2013, I presented at paper at the Second Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights, in Geneva, Switzerland, on behalf of the Commission. The forum, which was convened by the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, sought to discuss implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The paper I presented highlighted the efforts which have been made by the African Commission with regards to the promotion and protection of human rights in relation to non-state actors, such as businesses or multi-national corporations.


6.        I also participated in the 15th Extra-Ordinary Session of the African Commission, which was held from 07 to 14 March 2014, in Banjul, The Gambia.


7.        During this Session, I chaired a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Budgetary and Staff Matters, where Members of the Commission and staff members from the Secretariat discussed and finalized two reports, on the execution of the 2014 Budget, and the 2015 Budget which has been approved by the African Union. These two reports were then presented during the plenary session, and discussed with the Members of the Commission. 



Part II:           Activities undertaken as the Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Conditions of Detention in Africa


8.        In my capacity as the Special Rapporteur, I presented the first draft of the Draft Guidelines on the Use and Conditions of Police Custody and Pre Trial Detention in Africa during the 15thExtra-Ordinary Session, in conjunction with partners who have assisted in spearheading the drafting process and have held consultations in the different regions of Africa. Members of the Commission engaged with the first draft of the Guidelines, and proposed amendments to improve the document.


9.        It is hoped that, once adopted by the Commission, this document will contribute to principles which will assist Member States to ensure the protection of the human rights of detainees in police custody and pre-trial detention in Africa.


10.    Between 03 and 04 April 2014, I attended the African Correctional Services Association (ACSA) Ministerial Consultative Forum (MCF) held in Pretoria, South Africa and organized by the Minister for Correctional Services, in the Republic of South Africa. I presented a paper on Human Rights and the state of prisons in Africa. In the paper, I pointed out the key factors affecting human rights in prisons including overcrowding, dilapidated buildings, poor hygiene, among others.


11. Between 23 and 24 April 2014, I attended a meeting in Johannesburg on the proposal by the UN to support the implementation of the Pre-Trial Guidelines once adopted by the Commission.



Part III:         Other activities undertaken as a Member of the Working Group on the Death Penalty and Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary killings in Africa


12.    As a member of the Working Group on the Death Penalty, I chaired an internal meeting from 05 to 06 March 2014, on behalf of the Chairperson of the Working Group who was unavoidably absent, which was held on the margins of the 15th Extra-Ordinary Session. This meeting was convened to discuss, among others the Continental Conference on the Death Penalty, the draft Protocol on the Abolition of the Death Penalty, and the Working Group’s 2014 – 2016 work-plan.  



Part IV:         Conclusion and Recommendations

13.    In conclusion, I would like to make the following general observations and recommendations.


  • The Special Rapporteur is mandated to examine the situation of persons deprived of their liberty within the territories of State Parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
  • While the Special Rapporteur receives information on individuals who have been deprived of their liberty, or their families, representatives, NGOs or other concerned persons or institutions, I would like reiterate that on-site visits to places of detention are an essential means through which information is gathered. Furthermore, in addition to providing the Special Rapporteur with the opportunity to interact first hand with detainees and law enforcement agents, the Reports subsequently issued provide concrete recommendations on steps which the State should take in order to improve the conditions of detention in their countries. With this in mind, I would once again like to reiterate my call to State Parties to grant authorization for promotion missions to be conducted by the Special Rapporteur in their respective countries.
  • I would also like to call on State Parties to implement the decisions of the African Commission, including letters requesting urgent action, requests for provisional measures and final decisions issued on Communications.
  • I would like to thank all State Parties which heeded the African Commission’s call to submit State periodic reports. However, I would like to stress that State Parties should endeavor to consistently include information on the prison populations in their countries, in addition to information on training programs for law enforcement officers conducted, training which should include the Ouagadougou Declaration and Plan of Action on Accelerating Prisons and Penal Reforms in Africa, and the Guidelines and Measures for the Prohibition and Prevention of Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Africa, popularly known as the Robben Island Guidelines.
  • Further, I would like to reiterate the call to State Parties to the African Charter to establish, or designate independent international and national bodies mandated to undertake regular visits to places where people are deprived of their liberty.
  • In conclusion, as the Commissioner responsible for monitoring the human rights situation in the Republics of South Africa, Botswana, Eritrea, Somalia and Zambia, I would like to call on these State Parties to the African Charter to submit outstanding State periodic reports to the Commission, in accordance with Article 26 of the African Charter. As has been reiterated time and again, the state reporting procedure is considered as a dialogue, in which the state concerned and the African Commission exchange views on the measures which have been taken to ensure that the rights enshrined in the African Charter are being implemented in the country concerned. This is an essential duty of State Parties to the African Charter, which I would like to call on all State Parties to respect.


I thank you for your kind attention.