Chathan House Briefing Paper on the African Court on Human and People’s Rights. Chathan House is a UK based NGO focusing on internatioanl affairs.
Africa’s New Human Rights Court: Whistling in the Wind?
Summary of the briefing
_ Human rights abuses on a massive scale continue to afflict the lives of millions of
people across the continent of Africa. As in other parts of the world, the obstacles
in pursuing justice are currently insurmountable for most victims.
_ Against this troubling backdrop, the African Union (AU) has decided to add a
human rights section to its new court which has been agreed upon but not yet set
up. This court is called the African Court of Justice and Human Rights.
_ In the meantime, another pan-African human rights court, the African Court on
Human and Peoples’ Rights, has recently opened in Arusha, Tanzania. This court will
be wound down to make way for the African Court of Justice and Human Rights but
is expected to operate for the next few years at least.
_ These two courts represent the third instalment in efforts since the Second World
War to create regional human rights courts. Because they have broad powers to
enforce socio-economic rights and the collective rights of peoples, they may be
setting an example for new developments around the world.
_ This briefing paper focuses on the African Court of Justice and Human Rights, but it
also explains key features of the interim African Court on Human and Peoples’
Rights. It addresses questions including:
_ Can victims of human rights abuses bring cases?
_ Will the Court be able to try African heads of state?
_ Will governments comply with judgments?