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THE AFRICAN BAR ASSOCIATION FREETOWN DECLARATION ON
HUMAN RIGHTS 1978
The African Bar Association holding its 3rd Biennial Conference in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on the 4th day of August, 1978.
Concerned about the unenviable political, economic and social life in Africa, and holding the view that the rights of the individual within the sovereignty of the state are paramount, and affirming its belief in the fundamental human rights as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations Organisation, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as affirmed in the Acts of Athens 1955, New Delhi Declaration 1959, and the the Law of Lagos 1961, and in particular, the rights of the people to live and to be free from arbitrary arrest, freedom of speech and expression, freedom from inhuman treatment, freedom from discrimination on account of religion, race and sex, right to hold property, right to freedom of conscience, right to freedom of assembly and association, right to freedom of movement, that these rights even though not absolute are inalienable to every individual and also concurring with the Lusaka Manifesto of 1969, which reaffirmed the commitment to the principles of human equality, human dignity and the doctrines of self-determination and non-racialism hereby declares :
1. That access to the court of law and due process of law to the individual is a fundamental right.
2. That any law which purports or seeks to oust the jurisdiction of the court on any matter is a derogation from the concept of human rights and to that extent bad, and obnoxious.
3. That any penal law with retrospective effect is contrary to the concept of human rights and therefore highly objectionable.
4. That any proven violation of these principles in any member country should receive and engage the immediate attention of this association for appropriate action to be taken.
5. That copies of this declaration be sent to member states of the Organisation of African Unity and its Secretariat.
Dated this 4th day of August 1978. Babatunde 0. Benson, Esq.
Lawrence B. Akainyah, Esq. Chairman
Secretary-General 1. Sierra Leone..
Mr. Manilius R.O. Garber 2. Nigeria
Mr. Debo Akamde 3. Ghana
Mr. Owusu Yaw 4. Kenya
Mr. S. Amos Wako 5. Gambia
Alhaji A.M. Drameh 6. Zambia
Mr. Julius B. Sakala (90)
ORGANIZATION OP AFRICAN UNITY RESOLUTION REGARDING HUMAN
RIGHTS, JULY 1979
DECISION ON HUMAN AND PEOPLE'S RIGHTS IN AFRICA
The Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity, meeting in its Sixteenth Ordinary Session in Monrovia, Liberia, from 17 to 20 July, 1979,
Recalling the United Nations Charter in which the people of the United Nations proclaimed “their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small”, and undertook “to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom",
Recalling further the Charter of the Organization of African Unity in which the Heads of State and Government of Africa declared : “persuaded that the Charter of the United Nations and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to the principles of which we reaffirm our adherence, provide a solid foundation for peaceful and positive co-operation among States",
Considering that pursuant to Article II paragraph 1(e) of the Charter of the Organization of African Unity, the Heads of State and Government of Africa have pledged to promote international co-operation having due regard to the Charter the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Stressing the importance that the African peoples have always attached to the respect for human dignity and the fundamental human rights bearing in mind that human and people's rights are not confined to civil and political rights but cover economic, social and cultural problems and that the distinction between these two categories of rights does not have any hierarchical implications but that it is nevertheless essential to give special attention to economic, social and cultural rights in future,
Considering that economic and social development is a human right,
Taking note of Resolution 24 (XXIV) of the Human Rights Commission on regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights:
1. Reaffirms the need for better international co-operation, respect for fundamental human and peoples' right and in particular the ight to development; 2. Calls on the Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity to:
(a) draw the attention of Member States to certain international conventions whose ratification would help to strengthen Africa's struggle against certain scourges, especially Apartheid and racial discrimination, trade imbalance and mercenarism
(b) organize as soon as possible, in an African capital, a restricted meeting of highly qualified experts to prepare a preliminary draft of an "African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights" providing inter alia for the establishment of bodies to promote and protect human and peoples' rights.
TEXT OF LETTER DATED OCTOBER 23, 1979 TO SUBCOMMITTEE CHAIRMAN
BONKER, FROM ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR CONGRESSIONAL RELATIONS REGARDING UNITED NATIONS SPONSORED SEMINAR IN MONROVIA WITH ATTACHED U.N. PRESS RELEASE DATED SEPTEMBER 1979
OCTOBER 23, 1979. Hon. Don BONKER, Chairman, Subcommittee on International Organizations, House of Representatives.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: In my letter to you of September 18, I promised to advise you of the results of the United Nations sponsored seminar in Monrovia concerning establishment of an African human rights commission.
The participants, who were experts acting as individuals rather than government representatives, endorsed the creation of an African commission. They adopted a “Monrovia proposal" of draft articles providing a possible model for a commission, which will be sent to the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
The model envisages a 16-member commission of experts, supported by the OAU, which would, among other things, “study situations of alleged violations, their causes and manifestations, provide its good offices to any State member of the OAU in relation to any such situations, and make reports with appropriate recommendations thereon to the OAU." I enclose a UN press release describing the seminar's conclusions in more detail.
The OAU will sponsor a meeting of experts at a later date “to prepare a preliminary draft of an 'African Charter on Human Rights' providing inter alia human rights." This meeting, mandated by the OAU Heads of State, is distinct from the UN-sponsored seminar. I hope this will be helpful to you and the members of the Subcommittee. Sincerely,
J. BRIAN ATWOOD,
September 24, 1979. UNITED NationS HUMAN RIGHTS SEMINAR IN MONROVIA (LIBERIA) CONCLUDES
ITS WORK WITH A "MONROVIA PROPOSAL" FOR AN AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS A United Nations human rights seminar-which has been meeting in Monrovia, Liberia, since 10 September 1979—concluded its work on 20 September with an important series of conclusions and recommendations for the establishment of an African Commission on Human Rights. The "Monrovia proposal" for an African commission will be brought to the attention of the United Nations General Assembly as well as to the Organization of African Unity.
The Seminar—which was addressed at its opening ceremony by the President of the Republic of Liberia, Dr. William R. Tolbert-was convened following a request of the General Assembly and upon the invitation of the Government of Liberia. It elected as its chairman Joseph J. F. Chesson, Minister of Justice (Liberia) and brought together participants—working in their capacities as individual experts—from Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Empire, Comoros, Congo (Popular Republic of), Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Swaziland, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Upper Volta and Zambia. Representatives of spe
cialized agencies, regional intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and the liberation movements recognized by the Organization of African Unity also attended. Recommendations In its final document the Seminar unanimously :
Concluded that it would be desirable to establish an African Commission on Human Rights as soon as possible. The Secretary-General of the United Nations is requested to transmit to the Organization of African Unity for consideration the Monrovia proposal for a possible model of an African commission.
Decided that the chairman of the OAU, President Dr. William R. Tolbert, be informed of the results of the Seminar, so that, acting in collaboration with the Secretary General of the OAU, he could inform the Heads of State 'and Government of the OAU about the draft proposal for an African Commission on Human Rights.
Suggested that the OAU discuss with non-governmental organizations ways and means of co-operation with an African Commission on Human Rights.
Recommended to the United Nations the intensification of its activities in the field of human rights in Africa, particularly by the dissemination of information to all levels of the African population and the encouragement of teaching, training, education and research activities in the field of human rights in collaboration with the OAU, UNHCR, and the specialized agencies.
Welcomed the information that UNESCO plans the establishment, in the near future, of an African institute for teaching and research in the field of human rights and called upon organizations in the human rights field to co-operate in that undertaking.
Recommended that the Monrovia proposal for an African Commission on Human Rights and its conclusions and recommendations be brought to the
attention of the United Nations General Assembly at its thirty-fourth session. Monrovia Proposal for an African Commission on Human Rights
In proposing the establishment of an African Commission on Human Rights the Seminar drew up a possible model for such a body and agreed on its draft articles.
The draft articles provide for a possible model of a commission to promote human rights in Africa. The African Commission on Human Rights would :
Conduct studies and research on African issues in the field of human rights, humanitarian and refugee law, promote education and teaching, organize seminars, symposia and conferences, disseminate information, encourage national and local human rights organizations and render advice to Governments.
Study situations of alleged violations, their causes and manifestations, provide its good offices to any State member of the OAU in relation to any such situations, and make reports with appropriate recommendations thereon to the OAU.
Formulate and elaborate basic standards to serve as bases for adoption of legislation by African governments with a view to dealing with legal issues related to the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Co-operate with other African or international institutions, and intergovernmental or non-governmental organizations concerned with the promotion and protection of human rights.
Perform such other tasks as might be entrusted to it. The African Commission on Human Rights would, according to the Seminar's model, consist of sixteen experts serving in their personal capacity. The members of the Commission would be elected by the assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organizations of African Unity.
The members of the Commission would be elected for a term of six years. The Secretary-General of the OAU would provide the necessary staff and would also convene the initial meeting of the Commission.
In the fifteen articles of the model commission drafted by the Monrovia Seminar provision is made for the election of the Commission's officers and the establishment of the Commission's rules of procedure.