DW publishes a review on Egypt’s President el Sissi’s one year as head of the African Union

Looking back at his year heading the AU, Amnesty International said Egypt did “little to uphold the values and principles of the organization relating to human rights.”
“Instead, it used this position to undermine human rights and the independence of regional human rights mechanisms,” Japhet Biegon, Africa regional advocacy coordinator for Amnesty International, told DW.

African Human Rights Journal published an editorial the end of year two of the Human and Peoples’ Rights Decade in Africa

As far as human rights are concerned, the rhetoric of AU member
states has little to do with reality. When it declared the Human Rights
Decade in June 2016, the AU Assembly pledged its ‘unflinching
determination to promote and protect human and peoples’ rights in
Africa and the need for the full implementation of human and
peoples’ rights instruments and decisions and recommendations
made by the AU organs with a human rights mandate’.1 More than
that, the Assembly also called on the AU Commission ‘to ensure the
independence and integrity of AU organs with human rights mandate
by shielding them from undue external influence’.2 Regrettably, it
turned out that it was not the threat of ‘undue external influence’ by
donors and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from outside
Africa, but undue influence by the AU policy organs themselves
(culminating in Decision 1015 by the AU Executive Council in June
2018) that undermined the independence and integrity of the African
Commission.

publication on African Commission Bowing to political Pressure to withdraw CAL’s observer status

On August 8, 2018, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) stripped the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) of its observer status following decisions by the African Union Executive Council that called on the ACHPR to consider “African values” when reviewing applications for observer status. The ACHPR’s decision to withdraw CAL’s observer status comes after years of advocacy efforts by CAL to obtain that status, and follows a drawn-out process before the ACHPR that has been marred by discriminatory statements on the part of both the continent’s human rights oversight body and the political organs of the African Union

AMSHER and CAL expresses concern that by holding its 64th session in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt

The acceptance of Egypt’s invitation to host this session further serves as a demonstration that the ACHPR has surrendered its independence to African States following Decision 1015 of the Executive Council. The NGO Forum further failed to honour a proposal put forward by Civil society organisations that met on 23 October 2018 in Banjul, to hold a “Peoples’ Commission” as an alternative to Egypt’s hosting of the African Commision and adopt appropriate resolutions. This is a betrayal of the peoples of Africa and the constituents represented through the NGO Forum.

The Centre for Human Rights calls on AU member states to recommit to independence of African Commission

Decision 1015 aims to pull the carpet from under the African Charter system. The reason why these very states in 1981 created the African Charter was to establish a system of independent oversight over the human rights enjoyed by the people of Africa. The African Commission as autonomous interpreter of the African Charter was placed at the core of this system. The principle of the rule of law – both at national and at AU level — requires that executives respect judiciaries’ interpretative function. By insisting that its own interpretation of the Charter overrides that of the Commission, the Executive Council has not only undermined the Commission’s autonomy, but also subverted the AU’s internal rule of law.

Statement of IHRDA at the 63rd Ordinary Session of the ACHPR, October 2018

However, we are concerned about Decision 1015 of the Africa Union Executive Council reached in June 2018 for the impact it has on the work of the Commission.

This decision outlines that the “independence enjoyed by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights is only of a functional nature and not independence from the same organs that created the body.” We submit that this is a misunderstanding of international law, as the Commission was not created by AU organs but by a treaty: the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Moreover, the Charter guarantees the institutional, functional and personal independence of the Commission and its Commissioners. To be able to carry out its duties effectively, the Commission must work free of all external interference from Africa Union political and policy organs.