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How to Access the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights Our

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How to Access the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights
Our Partner, the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights (African Court), has the mandate to
render binding decisions on human rights violations against African Union Member States that have
acknowledged its jurisdiction.
Who can be brought before the African Court?
As before any other human rights court only states can be brought before the African Court. States,
through all of their organs and representatives have to respect and actively protect and promote
human rights. Any failure to do so could constitute a human rights violation, therefore the State can be
brought to the African Court.
Who can address the African Court?
Anyone – of any nationality – can bring a case to the African Court if the state that is alleged to have
perpetrated a human rights violation has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court to be directly
approached by individuals. So far this is the case for Burkina Faso, Malawi, Mali and Tanzania.
What can I do if the state concerned is not among those mentioned above?
For the other African Union Member States, the Court can still examine whether the State concerned
will respond to the allegations. Another alternative is to bring the case before the African Commission
on Human and Peoples' Rights (Commission, and request for the case to be referred
to the Court. Anyone can submit cases of alleged human rights violations by any African Union
Member State to the Commission.
Do I have to have personally experienced a human rights violation in order to bring a case
before the Court?
Anyone can bring a case before either the African Court or the Commission if they have personally
experienced a human rights violation or they can do it on behalf of another person or group of persons
who have suffered human rights violations. This is what enables also NGOs to bring cases before the
Court and the Commission.
Do I need a lawyer to address the Court?
No. But you are entitled to be represented by a lawyer or any other person of your choice. If you
cannot afford a lawyer, you can apply to the Court for free legal representation. In many African
countries there are also organizations that offer free legal support. Enquire for this at your National
Human Rights Institution or Organization.
What sort of cases can be brought to the Court?
All sorts of cases can be brought before the Court since human rights apply in all aspects of life. The
only condition is that your case must have been decided, preferably by the highest court, in the State
alleged to have perpetrated the human rights violation. But if the State’s courts are not really
accessible or the procedure has taken too long, your case could still be heard by the African Court.
Generally, if you think there was no justice from the national courts on an issue touching on human
rights, you can bring the case to the African Court.
What kind of redress does the African Court offer?
The Court can make any appropriate orders to remedy the human rights violation, including the
payment of compensation and reparation. In cases dealing with matters of grave concern, for example
the preservation of a person’s life, the Court can adopt provisional or interim measures which would
require the situation to be maintained as it is until the Court makes its final judgment on the matter. All
the Court’s orders are binding to the parties concerned.
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