African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights

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The African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) was established by the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Court Protocol) which entered into force in 2004.[1]

It is a regional court created to make judgments on African Union states' compliance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. It came into being on January 25, 2004 with the ratification by fifteen member states of the Court Protocol.[2] To date, 29 of the African Union's 54 members have ratified and are parties to the Court. The AU discourages prosecution of human rights abuses in the International Criminal Court, hoping that they would be tried by the AfCHPR instead; but the AfCHPR has achieved very little.[3]


  • Collect documents and undertake studies and researches on human and peoples’ rights matters in Africa;
  • Lay down rules aimed at solving the legal problems relating to human and peoples’ rights;
  • Ensure protection of human and peoples’ rights; and
  • Interpret all the provisions of the Charter.


The Court is located in Arusha, Tanzania, at the Phase II of the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Conservation Centre Complex along Dodoma Road

Election of Judges[edit]

On January 22, 2006, the Eighth Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union elected the first eleven Judges of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights.

Judges are normally elected for six-year terms and can be re-elected once. The President and Vice-President are elected to two-year terms and can be re-elected once.

The Court had its First Ordinary Session from July 2–5, 2006 in Banjul, The Gambia.


The Court has jurisdiction to determine applications against state parties of the Court Protocol. To date, 29 states have ratified the protocol: Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire, Comoros, Congo, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Niger, Uganda, Rwanda, Arab Saharawi Republic, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo and Tunisia.[4]

An application against these states may be made by the African Commission or African inter-governmental organisations.

Where a state has made a declaration accepting the right of individual application, an individual or NGO with observer status before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights may make an application. Seven states have made the declaration: Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Rwanda and Tanzania.[5]


On December 15, 2009, the Court delivered its first judgment, finding an application against Senegal inadmissible.[6]

The Court's first judgement on the merits of a case was issued on June 14, 2013, in a case involving Tanzania. It found Tanzania had violated its citizens’ rights to freely participate in government directly or through representatives regardless of their party affiliation, and ordered Tanzania to take constitutional, legislative, and all other measures necessary to remedy these violations.[7][8]

On March 28, 2014, the Court ruled against Burkina Faso, in a case brought by the family of Norbert Zongo, a newspaper editor who was murdered in 1998. The court found that Burkina Faso had failed to properly investigate the murder, and had failed in its obligations to protect journalists.[9][10]

Composition of the Court[edit]

Name State Position Elected Term Ends
Gerard Niyungeko  Burundi President 2006 2012
Sophia A.B. Akuffo  Ghana Vice-President 2006 2014
Jean Mutsinzi  Rwanda Member 2006 2012
Fatsah Ouguergouz  Algeria Member 2006 2016
Elsie Nwanwuri Thompson  Nigeria Member 2010 2016
Sylvain Ore  Côte d'Ivoire Member 2010 2016
Duncan Tambala  Malawi Member 2010 2016
Augustino S. L. Ramadhani  Tanzania Member 2010 2016
Modibo Tounty Guindo  Mali Member 2006 2012
Bernard Ngoepe  South Africa Member 2006 2014
Joseph Nyamihana Mulenga  Uganda Member 2008 2014

Former Judges[edit]

Name State Position Elected Term Ended
George W. Kanyeihamba  Uganda Member 2006 2008
Jean Emile Somda  Burkina Faso Member 2006 2008
Githu Muigai  Kenya Member 2008 2010
Hamdi Faraj Fannoush  Libya Member 2006 2010
El Hadji Guissé  Senegal Member 2006 2010
Kelello Justina Mafoso-Guni  Lesotho Member 2006 2010

Planned merger with the African Court of Justice[edit]

On July 1, 2008, at the African Union Summit in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, Heads of State and Government signed a protocol[11] on the merger of the AfCHPR with the still non-existent African Court of Justice following a decision by member states at a June 2004 African Union Summit. As of 3 February 2014, only five countries have ratified the protocol out of 15 needed for its entry into force.[12] The new court will be known as the African Court of Justice and Human Rights.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Kate Stone, African Court of Human and People's Rights (Advocates for International Development, February 2012). Legal Guide.'s%20Rights.pdf
  2. ^ Protocol to the African Charter on Human And Peoples' Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, 9 June 1998.
  3. ^ "Justice for dictators: History rules". The Economist. 21 April 2012. Retrieved 26 April 2012. Yet the African Union (AU) asks its 54 members not to co-operate with the court, and wants the Security Council to “defer” (ie, abandon) its cases against Mr Bashir and in Kenya. Instead, the AU says Africans should prosecute their own tyrants. But that requires properly functioning courts, a rarity on the continent. The AU’s own African Court of Justice and Human and People’s Rights has made almost no progress. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ Judgment in the matter of Michelot Yogogombaye versus the Republic of Senegal, 15 December 2009. Archived December 15, 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights, 1 July 2008.
  12. ^ Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights, Status list, 3 February 2014.