A brief on the human rights situation in Africa submitted to the 28th summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU)
Since the ICJ is committed to the Rule of Law and legal protection of human rights, the ICJ is pleased with a number of developments in Africa in the past few years.
The apparent waive of democratization as seen in Benin and Zambia is a noteworthy indication that political pluralism and free and fair elections are not alien to Africa. The transitions to civilian rule scheduled for 1993 in Ghana and Nigeria, two countries plagued in the past by military intervention, are hopeful examples of positive change.
In addition, African countries, as member states of the OAU, have pledged in the preamble to the OAU Charter “to
promote international cooperation, having due regard for the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
Also worth noting is that forty-three of the fifty-one African states have ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Although only a few African states have submitted their periodic reports to the Commission, the ICJ is encouraged by indications that other states will do so in the near future. It is also our hope that the eight States which have not as yet ratified the African Charter will do so as soon as possible.
Despite these innovations, however, legal protection of human rights remains inadequate in Africa, exemplified by recent human rights violations in many African states. The ICJ is deeply concerned about the continuing violations.
The OAU Summit in conjunction with the African Commission has a responsibility to address these violations and to assure that African countries respect their legal obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the UN Charter and other relevant international instruments.
Specific human rights violations are of particular concern to the ICJ due to their severity of harm and their frequency of occurrence throughout Africa. These include: killings and lack of accountability, arbitrary detention, torture, lack of personal protection and arbitrary use of power due to the lack of an independent judiciary, lack of protection of civilians during armed conflict and deportation.
The examples of violations used in the following legal analysis are based on international and local sources. While some changes may have occurred that are not indicated in this brief, examples are meant to illustrate potential consequences when the law is inadequate to protect human rights.
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