PRESS RELEASE: Webinar on Popularization of Soft Laws under the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights 6 to 7 June 2023 (Virtual)


Banjul, 9 June 2023 - The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) organized a two-day Webinar on the Popularization of Soft Laws under the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa (SRRWA). The Webinar was convened by Hon. Commissioner Janet Ramatoulie Sallah-Njie, the SRRWA, from 6 to 7 June 2023.

The overall Objective of the Webinar was to sensitize and create awareness on the soft laws of the Special Mechanism towards the promotion and protection of the rights of women and girls in Africa, as well as the domestication of the Maputo Protocol to be widely known and utilised. To achieve this objective, the Webinar sought to discuss the content and importance of the soft laws under the mandate of the SRRWA, best practices and challenges associated with their domestication and implementation, and lessons from the UN System, among others. The Webinar brought together State Representatives; Representatives from the AU Organs, Regional and Sub-Regional Organizations, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), UN Agencies; Academia and other stakeholders. 

The Outcome Document of the Webinar will be published on the ACHPR’s website at a later stage. However, some of the key recommendations include the following:    
-Collaboration and Synergy between the Office of the SRRWA and Partners supporting the Mechanism, to ensure that the Soft Laws are effectively disseminated and popularised; 
-States Parties should decriminalize abortion and provide sufficient funding to ensure that women get accessible and available reproductive and health services, free from discrimination;
-States Parties to the Maputo Protocol should withdraw reservations against the progressive provisions of the Maputo Protocol that hinder its effective implementation; 
-State Parties should comply with their obligations to submit Periodic Reports to the ACHPR and harmonize their domestic laws with the provisions of the Maputo Protocol for effective interpretation and implementation of the instrument;
-NHRIs should be encouraged to participate in the State Reporting process; submit alternative and activity reports, and attend the Public Sessions of the ACHPR, which will in turn enable them to urge States to ratify the Maputo protocol and withdraw reservations;
-Individuals, NGOs and CSOs should be encouraged to submit Communications to the ACHPR when there is a violation of women's rights  and to utilise the Soft Laws adopted under the provisions of the Protocol;
-Stakeholders should promote positive masculinity to end violence against women and other human rights violations against women;
-There is need to use/target the traditional structures/leaders to influence change on matters that are grounded on traditional norms;
-There is need to compile in hard copy and online repository of Soft Laws for ease of access by interested stakeholders;
-There is need for Capacity Building, to Law Enforcement Officers; Lawyers, Magistrates and Judges on the Soft Laws of the Commission in general, and Soft Laws under the mandate of the SRRWA in particular, to enable them translate and interpret the provisions in their practice.