12th Session of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC), 3-5 November 2008, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
IHRDA Statement on the Communication Procedure of the ACERWC
The Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) extends its gratitude to the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child for the invitation to participate in the 12th Session of the Committee here in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
IHRDA notes with pride that the Committee is the first child rights enforcement mechanism with a communications procedure. However IHRDA also notes with concern that even though the Committee has adopted ‘Guidelines for the Consideration of Communications provided for in Article 44 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child’, only one communication is pending before the Committee.
IHRDA notes that the receipt and consideration of communications is a unique opportunity for the Committee to accelerate the enforcement of children’s rights and develop related jurisprudence. Such jurisprudence would serve as a useful guide to African State-parties on their respective measures to protect and promote children’s rights as well as serve as an example for other regional human rights systems.
IHRDA urges partner organisations here present and throughout Africa working for the protection and promotion of children’s rights to submit communications to the Committee to seek redress for victims of rights violations, strengthen child rights protection and give visibility to the work of the Committee. Through its promotional work and in its interaction with civil society, IHRDA also urges the Committee to inform and educate people about the communications procedure.
As a further boost to its mandate, IHRDA notes that Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights identifies the Committee under Article 30(c) as an institution eligible to submit cases to it for violations of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) ‘or any other legal instrument relevant to human rights ratified by the State Parties concerned.’ The Assembly of the African Union (AU), at its 11th Ordinary Session held in July 2008 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, adopted the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights. The Protocol provides for the merger of the current African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the AU Court of Justice into a single court known as the African Court of Justice and Human Rights (the merged Court). The Protocol establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights did not include the Committee in the list of entities eligible to submit cases to it. Consequently it is a welcome development that the Assembly has rectified this anomaly.
IHRDA therefore requests the Committee to call upon AU member States to ratify the Protocol establishing the merged Court to enable the Committee to further strengthen its mandate by resorting to the Court in due course.
Pending the establishment of the merged Court, IHRDA urges the Committee to seriously consider the opportunities offered to it through the new protocol and work out ways to enable the Committee to submit cases or request for advisory opinions to the African Court of Justice and Human Rights once it is operational.