Concerned about the increase in the number of human rights defenders in exile in Africa, during its 27th Extraordinary session, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (‘the African Commission’) adopted resolution 439 mandating the African Commission to publish a report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in Exile in Africa.
On 20 April 2021, the African Commission held a panel on the vulnerabilities affecting African migrants such as forced labour, sexual abuse, use of children in armed conflict, human trafficking and other forms of contemporary slavery. Commissioner Maya Sahli-Fadel, the African Commission’s Special Rapporteur on refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons and migrants in Africa said that a significant number of migrants and refugees go missing in Africa under a variety of circumstances, including armed conflict and dangerous travel by land and sea.
“Migration has become one of the flagship concerns of the African Union and its various organs in recent years, particularly with the migrant crisis in Libya in 2017, which highlighted the various forms of vulnerabilities that migrants regularly experience” added Sahli-Fadel.
Siobhán Mullally, the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children stressed that although overlooked, migrant men and boys are often at risk of being targeted for recruitment by armed groups for labour and sexual exploitation as well as exploitation in criminal activities. She also added that all the labour externalisation programmes in Africa that facilitate the transfer of African workers to the Middle East need to be urgently and carefully studied. This could ensure that the human rights risks associated with the transfer of labour to the Middle East are prevented. Godwin E Morka, the Director for Research and Programme Development at the National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and other Related Matters, shared that Nigerians continue to be trafficked across their own country for sexual exploitation, child labour and domestic labour among other things. Some end up in the Middle East performing cheap labour and being exposed to contemporary forms of slavery.
All the Panellists shared the view that COVID-19 has exacerbated the number of human rights violations that African migrants face.Tomoya Obokata, the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences, said that stricter border management regulations in response to COVID-19 have affected migrants and asylum seekers in need of protection from seeking safety in other countries.
On 21 April 2021, the Commission held a Panel to explore how arts, culture and heritage matter for the realisation of human and peoples’ rights in Africa. During this panel, the implications of arts, culture and heritage for the dignity of Africans were discussed. The panelists showed that creative arts and cultures of Africans have immensely contributed to the Gross Domestic Product of many African States and are a dynamic force for regional and economic integration and development. Commissioner Mudford Zachariah Mwandenga, the Chairperson of the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights called on African States to put in place legislative measures to protect African culture and heritage and outlaw all forms of harmful cultural practices. The majority of the panellists, including Commissioner Hajer Gueldch, Member of the AU Commission on International Law, strongly condemned the continued trafficking of African artefacts as well as those that were stolen from Africa during colonial times. They called for the return of artistic relics and artefacts stolen in colonial times which are hanging in foreign museums.
This week in an online event, 10 candidate States publicly spoke to an audience of around 200 people on their pledges as incoming Human Rights Council members for 2022 – 2024. They also faced questions on pressing human rights issues from both States and civil society organisations.
It's difficult to encapsulate such a complex year in a word, but "interconnected" is one that comes to mind when reflecting on 2020. We are proud to have remained deeply interconnected with defenders and to have supported, protected and amplified their work at the national, regional and international levels. With them, the "essential workers" of our times, we strive for a 2021 full of freedom, equality, dignity and justice.
16 organisations* share reflections on the key outcomes of the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council, as well as the missed opportunities to address key issues and situations including pushbacks and other human rights violations faced by migrants and refugees, and the human rights situations in Algeria, Cameroon, China, India, Kashmir and the Philippines. A shortened version was delivered at the Council. Full written version below.
For many rights holders, victims and activists, the UN Human Rights Council provides the last or only opportunity to get international attention and support for their vital work towards a world that’s more fair, equal and sustainable. We need the Council to continue being credible, effective and accessible to everyone. This is only possible if States demonstrate leadership, take principled action, ensure that Council members live up to their responsibilities and expectations, and fully cooperate with the Council’s mechanisms.
The dire situation of refugees and other migrants in Greece, and elsewhere across the Mediterranean, deserves the Human Rights Council’s attention. NGOs pressed European governments today on the incompatibility between protecting defenders abroad, and criminalising them at home.
European governments have a legal obligation to support and enable the work of NGOs, networks and human rights defenders who provide assistance to asylum seekers, according to a ground breaking legal analysis.
The Human Rights Council's 45th session will take place from 14 September to 6 October 2020. The Council will consider issues including reprisals, rights of indigenous peoples and people of African descent, arbitrary detention, and enforced disappearances, among others. It will present an opportunity to address grave human rights situations in States including Yemen, China, the United States of America, Saudi Arabia, Libya, the Philippines, Venezuela, Burundi and Myanmar, among many others. Here’s an overview of some of the key issues on the agenda.
Covid-19 took the whole world by surprise. Considered a health crisis at the beginning, it turned into an economic and social crisis with a general impact on the fundamental human rights and particularly on women's human rights. Women living in crisis areas are particularly affected and at risk.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission) held its 65th ordinary session from 21 October to 10 November 2019 in Banjul, Republic of The Gambia. This session focused on the African Union theme: 'Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Sustainable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa.'
Over two intense weeks, 18 dedicated human rights defenders participating in ISHR’s 2019 Human Rights Defenders Advocacy Programme (HRDAP) exchanged experiences, strengthened their skills, put them into practice, and built a network of allies in Geneva and across the globe.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission) held its 64th ordinary session from 24 April to 14 May 2019 in Sharm El Sheikh, the Arab Republic of Egypt. This session focused on the African Union theme: 'Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Sustainable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa.'