EXTENSION OF AFRICAN COURT JURISDICTION NOT YET

 


President of the Court (AfCHPR), Sylvain Ore.

Extension of judicial powers of the African Court on Human and People's Rights (AfCHPR) is still miles away. 

Not a single African Union (AU) member has to date ratified a protocol to extend powers of the Court beyond human rights. 

Had the idea won the support of many countries, the judicial organ of the AU would have been transformed into the African Court on Justice and Human Rights.

"This matter is still under discussion. No country has ratified extension of the Court jurisdiction so far", said the President of the Court (AfCHPR)  Justice Sylvain Ore.

He explained in a recent interview that at least 15 AU member countries have to ratify extension of the Court powers. 

AfCHPR was established in 1998 by the erstwhile Organization of African Union (OAU) member states to determine cases pertaining to human rights violations. 

The Court started operations in 2006 in Addis Ababa. It relocated to Arusha in 2007 and has to date determined about 300 cases, a half of them from Tanzania.

According to Justice Ore, at least 15 ratifications by AU member countries are needed to extend the mandate of the Court.

The expanded jurisdiction of the judicial organ means AfCHPR would become known as the African Court of Justice and Human Rights. 

Besides its mandate on human rights violations, it would also determine 'general cases' under the International Law and criminal cases specified under the Criminal Law. 

The extension of AfCHPR jurisdiction, specifically to deal with international crimes committed in Africa, falls under the Malabo Protocol.

The protocol was crafted by the AU Heads of State during their annual summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in July 2014 during which a proposal was made on the AfCHPR statute. 

Ratification of the Malabo Protocol would not only grant criminal jurisdiction to the existing AfCHPR, an AU judicial organ based in Arusha.

It would also merge the latter with the African Court of Justice to create the African Court of Justice and Human Rights with expanded mandate.

The proposed African court would have jurisdiction to prosecute international; crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. 

Others are 14 additional crimes with distinct relevance to the African context. These include piracy, terrorism and unconstitutional change of government

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