Report of the African Commission's Working Group of Experts on Indigenous Populations/Communities



The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) has been debating the human rights situation of indigenous populations/communities since 1999, as these are some of the most vulnerable groups on the African continent. Since the 29th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR in Libya in 2001, representatives of these communities have attended every session of the ACHPR and have given strong testimonies as to their desperate situation and the gross human rights violations to which they are victim. They have informed the ACHPR about the discrimination and contempt they experience, about their land dispossession and the destruction of their livelihood, culture and identity, about their extreme poverty, about their lack of access to and participation in political decision making, about their lack of access to education and health facilities. In sum, the message is a strong request for recognition, respect and human rights protection on an equal footing with other African communities. It is a request for the right to survive as peoples and to have a say in their own future, based on their own culture, identity, hopes and visions.

Representatives of indigenous populations and communities have requested that the ACHPR ensures the protection and promotion of their fundamental human rights, and the ACHPR has responded to this call. The ACHPR recognizes that the protection and promotion of the human rights of the most disadvantaged, marginalized and excluded groups on the continent is a major concern and that the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights must form the framework for this.

In order to achieve a better basis on which to advance discussions and formulate recommendations, in 2001 the ACHPR set up a Working Group on the Rights of Indigenous Populations/Communities with the participation of members of the ACHPR as well as expert representatives of indigenous communities and an independent expert. In consultation with human rights experts and representatives of indigenous communities, the Working Group drafted this comprehensive report that was adopted by the ACHPR in November 2003.