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ACHPR73: Côte d'Ivoire should strengthen the mechanism for the protection of human rights defenders

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (‘the African Commission’) examined the periodic report of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire covering the period 2016-2019, during its public session held from 20 to 30 October 2022 in Banjul, The Gambia. The report presents the progress made by Côte d'Ivoire regarding the state of human rights since its last review by the Commission.

On 24 and 26 October 2022, in compliance with Article 62 of the African Charter, the African Commission reviewed the periodic report of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire covering the period 2016-2019 on the legislative, administrative and political measures taken with a view to give effect to human rights guaranteed by the African Charter, the Maputo Protocol and the Kampala Convention. 

During the presentation of their report, the government of Côte d’Ivoire highlighted that since the review of its second periodic report on 28 June 2016, Côte d’Ivoire has continued its efforts to improve the human rights situation in the country. Indeed, article 20 of the Constitution of 8 November 2016 guarantees the freedoms of association, assembly and peaceful demonstration, the order No. 004/MMG/CAB of 22 October 2018 established the Brigade for the Repression of Infractions of the Mining Code (BRICM) in relation to extractive industries, the law No. 2018-900 of 30 November 2018 established the new National Council for Human Rights (CNDH), lays out its attributions, organisation and functions and reinforces the compliance of the institution with the Paris Principles and the decree No. 2017-121 of 22 February 2017 on the modalities of application of law No. 2014-388 of 20 June 2014 on the promotion and protection of human rights defenders. 

During the review, all Commissioners welcomed the submission of its periodic report by the government of Côte d’Ivoire. However, they unanimously noted that the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire’s report focused only on the African Charter and did not follow the State Reporting Procedures and Guidelines of the Commission.  Indeed, the government failed to present the report covering all three conventions, especially the Maputo Protocol, article 26, and the Kampala Convention, article 14.

Prior to the review, ISHR and the Coalition Ivoirienne des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (CIDDH), submitted a civil society report to the Commission on the situation of human rights defenders in Côte d’Ivoire. These submissions are intended to assist the Commission, and more specifically Commissioners, in making recommendations to governments.

The briefing paper called on the government of Côte d’Ivoire to:

  • Guarantee a secure working environment for human rights defenders by implementing the provisions contained in Law No. 2014-388 of 20 June 2014 on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights Defenders and its implementing decrees of 22 February 2017 and 20 October 2021;
  • Strengthen the protection mechanism in place by ensuring defenders are an active part of the mechanism; 
  • Disseminate the content of the law on human rights defenders among the administrative, judicial and security authorities in order to avoid any restrictions of the work of human rights defenders;
  • Strengthen the civic and democratic space in Côte d’Ivoire by promoting freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly for all human rights defenders;
  • Release all human rights defenders detained at MACA, in particular Pulchérie Gbalet who has been detained since 22 August 2022 and the journalist Konan Yao Hubert;
  • Monitor regularly the situation of human rights defenders and provide adequate response to  grievances through the protection mechanism.

The President of the African Commission, who is also Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and Country Rapporteur of Côte d’Ivoire, Commissioner Rémy Ngoy Lumbu, noted that the mechanism for the protection of defenders is under the authority of four ministries, excludes defenders, and unfortunately Côte d’Ivoire remains closed to the possibility of including defenders in the mechanism. Therefore, on the issue of the independence of the protection mechanism and the withdrawal of the African court’s declaration of competence: “what are the reasons for placing the defenders’ protection mechanism under the authority of four ministries, excluding defenders and do these measures guarantee the independence of the mechanism and is Côte d’Ivoire intending to reconsider its decision of 29 April 2020 on the withdrawal of the declaration of jurisdiction to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights?”, he asked. 

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