He gave the assurance when receiving a delegation of the African Court led by its President, Justice Sylvain Oré, and which included Judge Justice Tujilane Rose Chizumila and senior registry officials, at State House in Harare.
‘’We will act…we do not want to be left behind,’’ he stated, adding that Zimbabwe strongly cherishes and values Pan Africanism and the organs that exemplify this ideal.
‘’We will ratify the protocol,’’ he stressed, while wondering why Zimbabwe had not already done so earlier. Zimbabwe had signed the Protocol in 1998 but is yet to ratify it and make the Declaration under Article 34(6) to allow its citizens to access the Court directly.
The African Court delegation is in Zimbabwe 14-15 August on a sensitisation visit at the invitation of the government.
The delegation has already met key stakeholders, including the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Speaker, the Chief Justice, and the Acting Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the Bar Association, among others.
Over 50 key stakeholders today attended a national sensitisation seminar followed by discussions.
The African Court delegation conducted a similar sensitisation visit last week to the Union of Comoros.
The President of Comoros, Azali Assoumani, hailed the work of the Court and also underscored the importance of human rights.
‘’We have just set up a human rights commission and we want to ensure that all internal mechanisms are in place on exhaustion of local remedies,’’ he said, apparently in reference to a request made by the Court to make the Declaration under Article 34(6). Comoros ratified the Protocol on establishment of the Court in December 2013 but is yet to make the Declaration.
‘’The sensitisation visits to these two countries (Comoros and Zimbabwe) have been very positive and fruitful,’’ said Justice Oré. ‘’These visits have helped to raise awareness of the Court’s existence.’’
For the Court to discharge its mandate effectively and further strengthen the African continent’s human rights system, Justice Oré said, a greater number of countries must ratify the Protocol and make the Declaration under Article 34(6).
Since the adoption of the Protocol in June 1998, 30 out of 55 AU Member States have ratified it, but only nine State Parties to the Protocol have made the Declaration under Article 34(6). These are Burkina Faso, Benin, Ghana, The Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Malawi, Tanzania, and Tunisia.
The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights was established by virtue of Article 1 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, to complement the protective mandate of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, with a view to enhancing the protection of human rights on the continent.
As in July 2019, the Court received 220 applications of which 62 have been finalised.
The Court is composed of 11 Judges, nationals of Member States of the African Union elected in their individual capacity.
The Court meets four times a year in Ordinary Sessions and may also hold Extra-Ordinary Sessions.