On World Press Freedom Day, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network welcomes two resolutions adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) raising concerns about the situation of journalists in Somalia and Ethiopia. The 51st Ordinary Session of the ACHPR that took place in Banjul, The Gambia, began on 18th April and concluded yesterday, 2nd May 2012.
Members of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRD-Net) and its secretariat actively participated in the Commission session, as well as the NGO Forum that took place on 14th-16th April. With Sudan’s periodic report being examined at this session, EHAHRD-Net took the opportunity to raise concerns about the daily severe human rights violations being committed in the country. EHAHRD-Net also sought to highlight the situation of human rights defenders and journalists in the sub-region, and developments that have had a negative impact on the ability of HRDs to carry out their work over the past six months, including the use of restrictions on peaceful protests, administrative challenges and abusive use of legal charges against HRDs, physical attacks, arbitrary detention and torture.
Organisations participating at the NGO Forum expressed their concern on the grave and continuing human rights violations in Eritrea, and endorsed a letter calling on the ACHPR to take all necessary measures for the effective implementation of their decisions on Eritrea; the member states of the African Union to ensure the effective implementation of the ACHPR decisions and to support the appointment of a UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea; and the government of Eritrea to permit special mechanisms of the ACHPR and the UN special procedures unhindered access to visit the country. The NGO Forum also adopted a number of resolutions, including on Somalia, Sudan, human rights defenders, freedom of expression in Somalia, and in Africa, access to information, and sexual orientation and gender identity.
Finally, EHAHRD-Net welcomes the resolutions adopted by the ACHPR on Somalia and Ethiopia, and calls on all concerned to put the recommendations into practice. The Commission condemned the “excessive restrictions placed on human rights work by the Charities and Societies Proclamation” in Ethiopia and called on the government to amend the Proclamation in accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The ACHPR also called on the Ethiopian government to “remove restrictions on freedom of expression imposed on the Mass Media by the Access to Information Proclamation (2008) and the Anti-terrorism Proclamation (2009) that do not conform to rights of freedom of expression provided in international human rights law,” as well as to take measures to prevent torture, ensure fair trials and uphold the human rights of detainees.
In its resolution on freedom of expression in Somalia, the Commission also expressed concerns about the death toll of journalists and the “lack of investigation which leaves the perpetrators unpunished,” and called on the Somali authorities and all armed groups to end violations against media practitioners, to investigate the violations, and to review the Media Law and Penal Code to ensure respect of freedom of expression. The murder of journalist Farhan Jeemis Abdulle, who was shot to death by unknown gunmen in Galkacyo on the same day as the resolution was adopted underlines the urgency of the situation. EHAHRD-Net takes this opportunity to reiterate its calls for the Transitional Federal Government to ensure that all investigations are implemented fully and impartially, and followed by prosecutions that meet international fair trial standards
For a selection of documents from the 51st Ordinary Session of the ACHPR, please see:
- ACHPR Resolution on the Human Rights Situation in Ethiopia, 2nd May 2012: https://defenddefenders.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/ACHPR-May-2012-ENG-RESOLUTION-on-ETHIOPIA.pdf
- ACHPR Resolution on the Attacks against Journalists and Media Practitioners in Somalia, 2nd May 2012: https://defenddefenders.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/ACHPR-May-2012-ENG-FoE-journalists-Somalia.pdf
- ACHPR Resolution on the Situation Between Sudan and South Sudan, 2nd May 2012: https://defenddefenders.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/ACHPR-May-2012-ENG-on-Sudan-and-South-Sudan.pdf
- ACHPR Resolution to modify the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression to include Access to Information and Request for a Commemorative Day on Freedom of Information, 2nd May 2012: https://defenddefenders.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/ACHPR-May-2012-ENG-FoE-Extension-of-the-Declaration.pdf
For all other resolutions passed by the ACHPR, please consult the official website: www.achpr.org
- ACHPR 51st Ordinary Session Final Communique, 2nd May 2012: https://defenddefenders.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/ACHPR-51-OS-Final-communique_english.pdf
For documents from the NGO Forum, please see:
- African Civil Society Call for Action on Continuing Human Rights Violations in Eritrea, endorsed by the NGO Forum, 16th April 2012: https://defenddefenders.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/African-Civil-Society-Letter-on-Eritrea-April-2012.pdf
- Summary Report of the NGO Forum and 25th African Human Rights Book Fair: http://www.acdhrs.org/2012/04/summary-report-of-the-ngos-forum-preceding-the-51th-ordinary-session-of-the-african-commission-on-human-and-peoples-rights-and-25th-african-human-rights-book-fair-14-16-april-2012/
For reports and statements submitted by EHAHRD-Net and its members, please see:
- EHAHRDP Overview of the Human Rights Situation in the East and Horn of Africa November 2011 – April 2012, published 19th April 2012
- EHAHRD-Net Intervention on the Report of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, presented on 24th April 2012
- EHAHRD-Net Intervention on the Report of the Special Rapporteur on Access to Information and Freedom of Expression, presented on 21st April 2012
- Joint intervention by EHAHRD-Net and Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) on the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right of Women (see www.sihanet.org for more information)
- Joint intervention focusing on Sudan by EHAHRD-Net and the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) on the Report of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (see www.acjps.org for more information)
- Human Rights Violations in the Republic of Sudan: A Shadow Report to Sudan’s Fourth and Fifth Periodic Report to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, submitted by ACJPS, EHAHRDP and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
For more information, please contact:
Hassan Shire, Chairperson of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network on: [email protected] or +256 772 753 753
Rachel Nicholson, Advocacy Officer at the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project on: [email protected] or +256 778 921 274