Photo: ISHR

Angola, Madagascar, Zimbabwe

ACHPR77: African States must continue to strengthen legal frameworks protecting defenders

On 24 October, ISHR delivered a statement on the situation of human rights in Africa, drawing the attention of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (‘the African Commission’) to the concerning trend of adopting laws and policies that restrict the rights of defenders in Africa, especially in Angola and Zimbabwe, as well as the need to ensure that existing measures and mechanisms to protect defenders are effective.

In its statement, ISHR highlighted its concern over the ongoing process in Angola for the adoption of an NGO law which considerably limits, in its provisions, the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms and shrinks civic and democratic space.

Any draft legislation affecting the rights of civil society must be drafted in consultation with Angolan defenders and comply with regional standards and principles guaranteeing freedom of association, in particular with the African Commission's guidelines on freedom of association and assembly.
Adélaïde Etong Kame, Senior Programme Manager (Africa) at ISHR

Additionally, the statement recognises the continued efforts by some African countries towards stronger legislative frameworks protecting defenders at the national level, especially the recent adoption by the Democratic Republic of Congo of a specific law promoting the rights of defenders though the text provides for the registration of defenders, which is contrary to the spirit of the UN Declaration on defenders. In Madagascar, despite the efforts made by civil society and numerous discussions with the government, the text submitted to parliament does not seem to take into account many of civil society’s concerns, in particular the particular violations faced by whistleblowers in the country.

As the country prepares for presidential elections, ISHR calls on the government to make the protection of human rights defenders, including whistleblowers, a priority and to adopt a law protecting them that respects international and regional principles relating to the protection of human rights defenders.
Adélaïde Etong Kame, Senior Programme Manager (Africa) at ISHR

Finally, States updated the African Commission on progress made for the implementation of human rights in their country, such as Zimbabwe currently including the impacts of climate change throughout its policies and hoping to present its next periodic report at the next ordinary session of the African Commission, having already submitted its State report. 

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