The 44th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (CADHP) was held in Abuja in the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 10 – 24 November 2008. It was preceded by an NGO Forum organised by the African Centre for Human Rights from 7 – 9 November.
In line with Article 62 of the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights, party states to the Charter must submit a report every two years on any legislative or other measures that have been implemented that support the rights and freedoms recognised and guaranteed by the Charter. The periodic reviews from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Benin were due to be examined during this session.
In order to help participants prepare for the CADHP Session, FIACAT together with ACAT Benin and ACAT DRC drafted two alternative reviews highlighting human rights violations within both countries and presented them to CADHP. Particular emphasis was laid on prison detention conditions in the two states.
Unfortunately, the government representatives of Benin and the DRC did not attend the 44th Session so the analysis of the human rights situation there has been postponed until the next session of the Commission in spring 2009.
FIACAT was nevertheless able to participate in the Commission’s working group on the death penalty by providing information on recourse to the death penalty in Africa and elsewhere in the world.
The CADHP reaffirmed its commitment to abolish the death penalty by adopting a resolution during this session. The resolution encourages, in particular, member states of the African Union that retain the death penalty within their legal framework to:
“guarantee that each individual accused of crimes that carry the death penalty benefit fully from a fair trial and from all the provisions contained in the African Charter and in other relevant regional and international treaties;
observe a moratorium on capital punishments with a view to abolishing the death penalty.”
The Commission also calls on member states of the African Union that have not yet done so to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aiming at abolition of the death penalty.