AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN ANDPEOPLES' RIGHTS
56th ordinary session
Banjul, The Gambia
April 21 - May 7, 2015
Contribution of the InternationalFederation for Human Rights (FIDH)
World Organisation Against Torture(OMCT)
In the framework of their jointprogramme,
The Observatory for the Protectionof Human Rights Defenders
Madam the Special Rapporteur forHuman Rights Defenders,
Madam and Sir Commissioners,
Madam and Sir Delegates,
FIDH and OMCT, in the framework ofthe Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, once againexpress their grave concern about the situation of human rights defenders inAfrica.
Arbitrary arrests, detentions and judicialharassment of human rights defenders are still used as means to persecuteand silence human rights defenders throughout the African continent.
In Algeria, withalready ten of their colleagues in detention, labour rights activists AbdelhamidBrahimi, Ferhat Missa and Youssef Sultani are judiciallyharassed for criticising the police on Facebook and for their participation topeaceful demonstrations in El Oued. Their trial is ongoing.
In Burundi, PierreClaver Mbonimpa, was re-arrested on April 27, 2015 for publicly speakingagainst a third mandate of President Pierre Nkurunziza.
In Cameroon, FranklinMohwa, president of Frontline Fighters for Citizens Interests (FFCI) isarbitrarily detained and prosecuted, so is Célestin Yandal, president ofthe Touboro Youth Collective.
In the DRC, the trialof detained human rights defender Christopher Ngoyi Mutamba, NationalChairman of the NGO “Synergie Congo culture et développement” andCoordinator of the platform Civil Society of Congo, opened on March 4, withoutany prior notice to the defendant who is facing a heavy prison sentence.
In Egypt, many humanrights defenders, including Yara Sallam, Sanaa Seif and AlaaAbdel Fattah are still arbitrarily detained for exercising their legitimateright to peaceful assembly.
While they are not currentlydetained, human rights lawyers, Mahienour El-Massry, Amr Abu-Elkhairand Azza Soliman; are still facing judicial harassment.
In Sudan, AdilBakheit, member of the Board of Trustees of the Sudan Human Rights Monitor(SHRM), was arrested on April 16, 2015.
In addition, over the last years, landrights defenders have become the target of a growing harassment aiming atsilencing dissenting voices likely to slow down investment projects.
In Cameroon, NasakoBesingi, Director of the NGO Struggle to Economize Future Environment(SEFE), was attacked on August 29, 2012.
In Uganda, GeraldKankya, Executive Director of the Twerwaneho Listeners Club (TLC), has beenthe target of a particularly harsh judicial and physical harassment since thebeginning of 2015.
In Sierra Leone, theongoing judicial harassment against several members of the Malen Land Ownersand Users Association (MALOA), illustrates the harassment which land rightsdefenders are the target of in the country.
Furthermore, in several countries,human rights defenders have also been subjected to threats and defamationcampaigns.
InAngola, the increasing insecure environment in which human rightsdefenders operate constitutes a direct threat to their work.
InCameroon, threats against Maximilienne Ngo Mbe, REDHACExecutive Director and Executive Secretary of the PRODHOP, and members of herfamily must be taken seriously byauthorities who should ensure their protection.
Still in Cameroon,acts of intimidation have been particularly directed against those who defendLGBTI persons, while the investigation into the death of human rights defender EricOhena Lembembe remains at a standhill.
In Libya, theassassination of Salwa Bouguiguis, human rights lawyer and women'srights activist, on June 25, 2014 must not remain unpunished.
InMauritania, life of Aminetou Mint El Moctar, Head of the Associationdes femmes chefs de familles (AFCF) is threatened since on June 6, 2014,the leader of a Mauritanian Islamic group “Ahbab Errassoul” launched a fatwaagainst her.
Last but not least, major obstaclesto the right to freedom of association were also reported on the continent,such as for instance in Angola, Kenya, Rwandaand Uganda.
InAngola, in February 2015, a draft regulation on the activities ofNGOs, which is to be adopted, contains a number of provisions that wouldconsiderably jeopardise the work of independent NGOs.
InKenya, the decision, on April 7, 2015, to freeze the accounts oftwo human rights organisations, Haki Africa and Muslims for HumanRights (MUHURI), in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Garissa, comesas an unfair retaliation measure against peaceful and legitimate human rightsorganisation.
In Rwanda, there is noindependent human rights NGO left since July 2013, when the Rwandan Leaguefor the promotion and defence of human rights (LIPRODHOR) was the target ofa takeover aiming its legitimate senior management.
InUganda, a new NGO bill would grant the internal affairs ministerand the National Board for Non-governmental Organisations broad powers tosupervise and dissolve all NGOs, and would impose severe criminal penalties forviolations.
1) In view of the above-mentionedelements, States parties should immediately and unconditionally:
- Implement all the provisions ofthe 1998 United Nations (UN) Declaration on Human Rights Defenders;
- Release all defenders who arearbitrarily detained for merely exercising their rights to fundamentalfreedoms;
- Put an end to all acts ofharassment - including at the judicial level - against human rights defenders;
- Order immediate, thorough,transparent investigations into allegations of violations of human rightsdefenders’ rights, in order to identify all those responsible, bring thembefore an independent tribunal, and apply them the sanctions provided by thelaw;
- Refrain from adopting anyprovisions that do not comply with international and African human rightsstandards, and abrogate or revise any such provisions that may be in force;
- Send a standing invitation to theUnited Nations and ACHPR’s Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders andfacilitate their country visits.
2)The Observatory also calls upon the ACHPR to:
- Denounce and condemn all human rights violationsfaced by human rights defenders during the examination of the periodic reportsof the States parties to the ACHPR, and on the occasion of all visits conductedin a State party;
- Increase its capacities to respond to urgentsituations faced by human rights defenders;
- Ensure the effective implementation of itsresolutions, concluding observations and decisions on communications;
- Continue and strengthen the collaboration with theUnited Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and with the otherregional mechanisms.
Please find the Written Intervention here: Written Intervention EN