The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, meeting at its 60th Ordinary Session held from 8 to 22 May 2017 in Niamey, Niger.
Recalling its mandate to promote and protect human and peoples’ rights in Africa under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter);
Bearing in mind its Resolution ACHPR/Res.69 (XXXV) 04 establishing the mechanism of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa and its Resolutions ACHPR/Res.119 (XXXXII) 07, ACHPR/Res.196 (L) 11, ACHPR/Res.273 (LV) 14 and ACHPR/Res. 336 (XIX) 16 on the situation of human rights defenders in Africa;
In particular, the resolution notes (excerpt):
Deeply concerned about the situation of human rights defenders in Africa, and their families, who as a result of their activities are victims of several forms of violation, including arbitrary arrest, unlawful detention, acts of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, extrajudicial and summary execution, killing, enforced disappearance, denial of the right to fair trial, access to medical care and right to food while in detention, and are forced to go into exile;
Also concerned about the persistence of reprisals against human rights defenders who cooperate with human rights mechanisms;
And that the Commission is (excerpt):
Concerned about new challenges, in particular the increased threats against defenders working on issues including the right to health, the fight against HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, sexual orientation and gender, extractive industries, promotion of democracy and peace, and women rights defenders irrespective of their area of activity;
The resolution concludes with a call to action:
The Commission calls upon States Parties to:
1. Comply with their obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other relevant human rights instruments ratified;
2. Take the necessary measures to provide human rights defenders with a conducive environment to be able to carry out their activities without fear of acts of violence, threat, intimidation, reprisal, discrimination, oppression and harassment from State and non-State actors;
3. Adopt specific legislative measures to recognise the status of human rights defenders, and protect their rights and the rights of their colleagues and family members, including women human rights defenders and those working on issues such as extractive industries, health and HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, sexual orientation and gender identity, promotion of peace and democracy, fight against terrorism, and respect for human rights;
4. Refrain from using the fight against terrorism as a pretext to restrict fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion and conscience, expression, association, assembly and movement;
5. Enact specific laws in conformity with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Grand Bay Declaration and Plan of Action, and the Kigali Declaration, and take the necessary measures for their implementation.