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Banjul, 25 April 2023: IHRDA and Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ) have completed a regional girls’ rights litigation surgery, 24 – 25 April 2023, in Maseru, Lesotho, for legal practitioners and child rights defenders in Africa.

Discussions touched on major human rights violations faced by girls in Africa, litigation procedures before the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC), and human rights norms for the protection of women/girls as per regional human rights legal instruments, notably the African Charter on Rights and Welfare of the Child, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. Participants also discussed procedures for engaging with other African regional and sub-regional mechanisms for girls’ rights protection, notably the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the East African Court of Justice, and the ECOWAS Court, together with ways of measuring impact of child rights strategic litigation/advocacy.

The workshop culminated in a session discussing suitable cases with potential for high impact, which IHRDA and participants will eventually follow up and file for litigation before the relevant regional mechanism(s).

The workshop comes in a context where a major gap remains between policymaking and policy implementation, with serious implications on the achievement of girl’s rights in African countries. Almost all African nations have ratified international and regional human rights treaties that are meant to protect the rights and welfare of children; yet ratification does not often get translated into effective implementation. Consequently, harmful customs and practices affecting children, especially girls, continue to prevail across the continent.

Workshop falls within the framework of CFJ’s Waging Justice for Women initiative aimed at using data-driven legal advocacy to reform discriminatory laws and increase accountability for gender-based violations.