Chairperson, this Report outlines the activities undertaken by me as a Commissioner during the Intersession from November 2010 to May 2011.
1. As Commissioner, I carried out some activities in fulfilment of my mandate during the intersession.
2. From 29 November to 01 December 2010, in Nairobi, Kenya, I participated in a 3-Day Retreat for Commissioners and the Secretariat of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights on the theme of: “Abortion and Reducing Maternal Mortality in Africa-A Human Rights Approach”. It was organized by Africa Alliance (IPAS) in collaboration with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa. The objectives of the retreat were to:
- Share with Commissioners and the Secretariat information on the magnitude and consequences of women’s lack of access to comprehensive reproductive health services, including safe abortion services; and the impact on maternal mortality and morbidity in Africa, and the MDG 5 goals.
- Examine and reach common understanding of how unsafe abortion and its consequences emanates from and leads to violations of women’s human rights.
- Review individual country’s status vis a vis the provisions of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa, particularly with regard to Article 14 (2) (c), which outlines steps to be taken by Member States for the realization of good health and reproductive rights for women.
- Find ways of monitoring African Member States’ compliance with the Protocol and the Maputo Plan of Action
3. One of the major outcomes of the retreat was the factual conclusion that antiabortion laws have a direct bearing on deaths caused by unsafe abortions of unwanted pregnancies. Restrictive rights to abortion inherited from our colonial laws, for example, allowed only when it endangers the life of the mother, forces women who do not want their pregnancies to resort to quacks or dangerous methods of abortion usually resulting in deaths. Such unnecessary deaths to women due to our restrictive laws on abortion call for a review of such laws to protect the rights to life of women.
4. From the 24 to 31 January 2011, as Chair of the African Commission’s Committee on Budget and Administrative Matters, I participated in the PRC meeting on Budget Proposals of the AU Organs, including the African Commission and the 18th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council, and the 16th Summit of Heads of States and Government, in Addis Ababa, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
5. On the side of these meetings, I followed up with the support of the Secretary and the Finance and Administrative Officer of the Commission, the recruitment of staff, especially legal officers approved by the Executive Council Decisions, especially Assembly/AU/Dec.205 (XI) Decision. I was informed that two legal Officers (P2) have been allocated to the Commission from the AUC recruitment pool. However, they are yet to be formally designated and sent to the Commission. I was also informed that with the departure of Dr Robert Eno, the P3 position of Senior Legal Officer would be filled, as well as an additional position of a Legal Officer at P3 level would be re-advertised due to the cancellation of a previous recruitment interview.
6. The paucity of staff, especially of legal officers as permanent staff remains critical. Following the departure on Sabbatical Leave of one of the two Senior Legal Officers, Mr Chafi Bakari, the capacity of the Commission to carry out its mandate in a competent and satisfactory manner is being seriously compromised. I therefore make an urgent appeal to the departments and or officials of the AUC responsible for recruitment to act urgently on the recruitment of staff approved for the Commission.
7. At the Meeting of the PRC, for consideration and adoption of the budget proposals of all the AU organs, the representatives of such organs present at the meeting, including myself, were not allowed to make a presentation in support of our budget proposal. The PRC adopted a mechanical application of the earlier Summit Decision imposing a 5% increase limit on the preceding year’s budget of each organ. As a result, the Commission had to cut down on many of its proposed budgeted activities for 2011.
8. Apart from the many important decisions taken at the Summit and, the Executive Council meetings, the decision on Africa’s Pastoralism (EX.CL/Dec.618 (XVIII) by the Executive Council approving the resolutions on “Policy Framework for Pastoralism in Africa”, adopted by the Conference of African Ministers of Agriculture, held from 25 to 29 October 2010 in Lilongwe, Malawi, has set a benchmark for recognition and encouragement of pastoralism in Africa. However, many pastoralists, like hunter gatherers in Africa, self-identify as indigenous populations due to the marginalisation of their different way of life from the livelihoods of dominant society. In order to avoid a disconnect and division in the advocacy of indigenous issues, there should be a similar decision at the level of the AU on hunter gatherers.
9. From the 22 February to 3 March 2010, I attended the 9th Extra-Ordinary Session of the Commission in Banjul, The Gambia. In that Session, the Commission finally approved its Rules of Procedure for printing.
10. The 9th Extra-Ordinary Session also addressed a number of urgent human rights matters and adopted certain measures in respect of some of them:
- A Statement on the Human Rights Situation in North Africa.
It also issued resolutions on:
- Arab Republic of Egypt,
- Republic of Cote D’Ivoire,
- Democratic Republic of Tunisia,
- The Great Socialist Peoples’ Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
11. The main objectives of the resolutions were to assist those states to address the urgent human rights situation they are facing.
12. The 9th Extra-Ordinary Session was important in one particular respect. Under Rule 118 (3) of the Rules of Procedures of the African Commission and pursuant to Rule 84(2) of the same Rules of Procedure, the African Commission submitted a case to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights against the Great Socialist Peoples’ Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, for alleged serious or massive violations of human rights and requested Provisional Measures from the Court. As a result the African Court has now
issued Provisional Measures against the Great Socialist Peoples’ Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
13. I also participated in some discussions at the NGO Forum that preceded the Session of the Commission, from 25 to 27 April 2011, especially the sessions on indigenous populations and Communities.
14. I also attended and chaired, from 26 to 27 April 2011, a Pre-session Meeting on the Working Group on Indigenous Populations and Communities to review the Working Group’s Inter-session activities and plans for future activities.
4 May 2011 Banjul, The Gambia