Dar es Salaam. Zimbabwe will soon ratify the protocol establishing the African Court on Human and People’s Rights (AfCHPR), a judicial organ of the African Union.
The assurance was made by the country’s leader President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week in Harare when he met a high-powered delegation of the Arusha-based Court. “We will act. We do not want to be left behind,” he stated, noting that Zimbabwe strongly cherishes the ideals of Pan Africanism.
President Mnangagwa, who came to power in November, 2017 after his predecessor, Mr Robert Mugabe, was forced out, wondered why his country had not ratified the protocol all along. Zimbabwe was among the first countries to sign the protocol establishing the Court way back in 1998 during the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Summit.
Ever since it had neither ratified the protocol establishing the organ nor made a declaration allowing its citizens to access the court directly. The AfCHPR delegation to Zimbabwe was led by its President Justice Sylvain Ore and included Justice Tujilane Rose Chizumila and senior Registry officials.
It was in Zimbabwe on a sensitization mission on the Court’s activities. The visit to Harare was preceded by a similar mission to Comoro.
The delegation has already met key stakeholders, including the acting minister of Foreign Affairs, the Speaker, the Chief Justice, and the acting chairperson of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the Bar Association, among others.
Over 50 key stakeholders attended a national sensitisation seminar followed by discussions.
In the island state of Comoro, the delegation met President Azali Assoumani, who hailed the work of the Court and also underscored the importance of human rights. ‘’We have just set up a human rights commission and we want to ensure that all internal mechanisms are in place on exhaustion of local remedies,’’ he said.
He said although his country had ratified the protocol that established the organ way back in 2013, it was yet to sign a declaration allowing citizens and NGOs direct access to the court.
So far 30 AU member countries, including Tanzania, have ratified the protocol out of the 55 state members of the continental body.
Only nine have made the declaration on individuals and NGOs direct access to the Court. They are Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Benin, Ghana, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Mali, Malawi, and Tunisia.