Monthly Archives: October 2020


The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission), through its Country Rapporteur for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso, the Special Rapporteur on Prisons, Conditions of Detention and Policing in Africa, Commissioner Maria Teresa Manuela, and the Chairperson of the Working Group on Death Penalty, Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings and Enforced Disappearances in Africa, Commissioner Ndiamé Gaye, is following with deep concern and growing alarm the reports of excessive use of lethal force against protesters in Nigeria and the resultant loss of lives and injuries.

The Commission expresses its shock about the widely reported human rights violations perpetrated in the context of the use by Nigerian military of live ammunition against protesters in the Lekki Toll Gate area of Lagos on 20 October 2020 resulting in the regrettable and unnecessary killing of an unknown number of people and bodily injury to others. The Commission reiterates its strong condemnation of these killings and the acts of excessive use of force, endangering various rights guaranteed in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter) including the rights to life, bodily integrity, freedom of assembly and the right to peaceful protests. The Commission also condemns in the strongest terms the prevention by the military of access by emergency medical personnel who sought to provide medical assistance and rescue those who sustained injuries during the operation by the military unit.

The Commission underscores that the resort to undue use of force against protesters, in the current context of expression of outrage by protesters against the perpetration of brutalities and abuse by law enforcement and security institutions, only exacerbates an already tense situation and cannot be the answer to the legitimate demands of protestors for an end to police brutalities, for accountability, and for reform of security institutions and governance in Nigeria.

The Commission is also concerned that criminal actors and other opportunist elements may exploit the situation, thereby endangering the peace and stability of Nigeria if the situation is not resolved urgently through amicable process within the framework of applicable human rights standards and principles. The Commission notes with serious concern the escalation of acts of violence, incidents of lootings and attacks on property by non-state actors taking advantage of the prevailing tense situation in the context of the protest that has been ongoing since early October.

The Commission welcomes the steps taken by Nigerian authorities. The Commission encourages the Government of Nigeria to build on the steps it has taken earlier, including the dissolution of SARS and announcements of the establishment of commissions of inquiry both at Federal and States levels, for listening to the voices of the protesting youth and addressing their grievances. While the Commission recognizes the need for upholding law and order, it underscores the human rights imperative of ensuring that force is used only as a last resort measure and in compliance with the principles of proportionality and necessity.

Given the deterioration of the situation in Nigeria, the Commission calls on the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to:
1. Take immediate action against the military unit that was involved in the use of live ammunition against protestors and initiate urgently transparent and independent investigation into the reported excessive use of force that led to death and injury at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos;
2. Take further appropriate measures for the de-escalation of the situation by withdrawing military forces deployed for policing the situation and end the use of the military forces in the enforcement of curfews;
3. Heed the call by the Commission and others for ensuring that security institutions do not resort to the use lethal force as a means of policing protests and carry out the policing of assemblies and enforcement of law and order in full compliance with the principles of minimum use of force as a last resort measure, necessity, precaution and proportionality as provided for in the Commission’s Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly;
4. Initiate a process for amicable resolution of the situation by giving due hearing to the voices of the protesting youth and based on applicable human rights standards and principles as a necessary measure for averting any threat to the peace and security of Nigeria and depriving criminal actors and other opportunist elements from exploiting the situation to the detriment of the stability of Nigeria; and

5. Implement the measures for comprehensive reform of law enforcement and security institutions in Nigeria proposed in the Commission’s statement of 14 October 2020 based on consultation with all relevant stakeholders, including the youth and civil society, with a view to make the laws, doctrine, training and practice of law enforcement and security institutions conform with human rights norms.
The Commission reiterates its readiness to accompany Nigeria in its effort to ensure compliance with the standards of the African Charter by its law enforcement institutions.

Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso
Country Rapporteur for the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Commissioner Maria Teresa Manuela
Special Rapporteur on Prisons, Conditions of Detention and Policing in Africa

Commissioner Ndiamé Gaye
Chairperson of the Working Group on Death Penalty, Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings and Enforced Disappearances in Africa
22 October 2020

Category: Media statement


The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission), through the Country Rapporteur for the United Republic of Tanzania, Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, Commissioner Jamesina King, and the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and Focal Point on Reprisals in Africa, Commissioner Rémy Ngoy Lumbu, is following the situation in the United Republic of Tanzania relating to recent developments affecting various areas of human and peoples’ rights in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and in the lead-up to the 2020 national elections.

The Commission is concerned by the amendment of the Basic Rights and Duties (Enforcement) Act (Cap. 3 of the Revised Laws of Tanzania) in June 2020, which restricts the filing of cases before Tanzanian courts in the interest of the public. This goes against the progressive constitutional right of every person to take legal action to ensure the protection of the Constitution and the laws of the land.

The African Commission’s Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in Africa of 2000, stipulate that States must ensure that any individual, group of individuals or nongovernmental organization is entitled to bring a human right claim before a judicial body for determination, because such claims are matters of public concern. The removal of public interest litigation represents a major regression, that reverses the implementation by Tanzania of an important means of protecting constitutional democracy and a key avenue for securing the rights of vulnerable groups lacking the capacity and financial resources to bring their own cases before the courts.

The Commission also wishes to express its concern about reports reaching it, highlighting undue limitations on civil society, journalists and the media, including the prolonged detention in remand of accused journalists. In this respect, the Commission is particularly concerned about the reported revocation in June 2020 of the operating license of Tanzania Daima newspaper, the suspension of Kwanza Online TV in July 2020 for 11 months for reporting on the country’s COVID-19 situation and the prohibition of local languages from being used in broadcasting media.

The Commission reiterates that the right to information that forms part of Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter) is critical in the effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic as underscored in ACHPR Resolution 449. The Commission further confirms the right of groups to use of their language, and that limitations may only be placed on expressions of hate speech and incitement to violence, but not on the language of communication.

The Commission is also concerned by reports of threats to and intimidation of opposition politicians, including in the context of the electoral process. The Commission in this regard reaffirms the right of every citizen under Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter), to participate freely in the government of his or her country, either directly or through freely chosen representatives. As pointed out in its Statement on Elections in Africa during the COVID-19 Pandemic of 22 July 2020, people should have full guarantees to be able to express their sovereign will by participating freely in the electoral process. The existence of an even playing field that allows all parties and candidates to campaign for and seek the vote of the electorate is also critical for free and fair elections that are in accordance with Articles 13 and 20 of the African Charter.
In this regard, the Commission:
1.Urges the Government of Tanzania to reverse both the amendment of the Basic Rights and Duties (Enforcement) Act (Cap. 3 of the Revised Laws of Tanzania) in line with the African Commission’s Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in Africa, and the law that imposes a blanket ban on the use of local languages for broadcasting media;

2.Calls on the Government of Tanzania to allow democratically elected leaders in opposition parties to fulfil their democratic functions free from undue restrictions and to ensure that all the necessary safeguards are in place for conducting the elections, both in protecting the health and safety of voters, officials and observers, and in ensuring that the elections are conducted in a free environment in which the electorate can express its will freely and all candidates are guaranteed an even playing field to freely campaign for and seek the vote of the electorate;
3.Requests the Government of Tanzania to ensure that regulatory measures and actions of State agents are in accord with the right to freedom of expression and access to information under Article 9 of the African Charter as elaborated in the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa; and
4.Calls on the Government of Tanzania to ensure that the right to a fair trial within a reasonable time and before an impartial tribunal, as required by Article 7 (d) of the African Charter is duly complied with.
5.The Commission remains actively seized of the human rights situation in Tanzania leading up to the national elections on 28 October 2020.

Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso,
Chairperson of the Commission and Country Rapporteur for the United Republic of Tanzania

Commissioner Jamesina King,
Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information

Commissioner Rémy Ngoy Lumbu,
Vice Chairperson of the Commission and Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and Focal Point on Reprisals in Africa

Category: Media statement


#Your Robust Voice # End Violence, Conflicts, Wars, Prevention of Genocide!
Africa Human Rights Day is observed annually in October to mark the entry into force of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (African Charter) adopted in June 1981. The African Charter entered into force on 21 October 1986 making it a legally binding human rights instrument to State Parties after ratification and enforceable at national level. This date was declared as the Africa Human Rights Day by the African Union (formerly Organisation of African Unity, OAU). As we observe this milestone achievement, the AU Theme for 2020 is Silencing the Guns. This is aligned to the AU Agenda 2063 to end wars, civil conflicts, gender based violence and prevention of genocide in the Continent.

It is also a year that marks the end of the African Women’s Decade from 2010-2020 on Grassroots Approach to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. We are reflecting on how the AU theme of silencing the guns has impacted on people’s lives at local level and if Africa Human Rights system is making progress in transforming the people of this continent from conflict to realisation of human dignity, peace, justice, accountability, equality from the grass roots. Guns have maimed, murdered, destroyed livelihoods of our people. How is Silencing of Guns, African Women Decade on Women will make meaning impact in ending wars, conflicts and prevent genocide when;

•DRC is going through a silent holocaust while the world watches!
•Nigeria, soldiers are shooting at peaceful protesters while the world watches!
•Cameroon, Anglophone Cameroonians are slain by the government security agents while the word watches!
•South Africa, there is disproportionate corruption, human trafficking, gender-based violence and femicide. Am I next? are you next?!!!!
•Zimbabwe, there is exacerbation of torture, forced disappearances, persecution of civil society activists, human rights defenders, journalist, corruption, irrational judiciary with impunity, while the world watches.

•Zambia is sliding towards authoritarianism, corruption, rising censorship, crackdown on free speech and oppositions of public activities. There is also excessive use of force in quelling any form of protest by the state security agents, while the world watches.
•Tanzania the disturbing pre-election violence, persecution of citizens, HRDs and journalists.
•Mozambique, the mysterious and faceless insurgency causing internal displacements, cruelty and homelessness in Cabo Delgado province in the northern Mozambique. While the world watches and the President of the country is the current Chairperson of the SADC.
African citizens, the tax payers contributing to economy of their countries are suffering in a bleeding continent, because of the senseless war crimes, crimes against humanity that can be described as genocide!

Justice for Africa! Enough is Enough!

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Category: Media statement