ACHPR59 | Panel on the human rights defenders mechanism’s contribution to the protection of women human rights defenders


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To complement the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights’ focus on how its Special Mechanisms can strengthen the rights of women in Africa, International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) was involved in a panel discussion at the 59th session of the Commission last October.

The discussion focused on the work carried out by the African Commission's Special rapporteur on human rights defenders to promote and protect women human rights defenders on the African continent.

ISHR’s Clément Voule joined Corlett Letjane from HURISA and Ms Reine Alapini-Gansou the African Commission's Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders.

The panelists explained that in 2012 the Commission adopted resolution 230 of 2012 commissioning a study on the situation of women human rights defenders in Africa. The Special Rapporteur  conducted the study of laws governing and protecting work of women human rights defenders along with discriminatory practices aimed at restricting their role in promoting and protecting human rights on the continent.

In May 2015 the Commission adopted the study, which was the first of its kind and can be downloaded here.

In 2016, in order to help State parties and other actors implement the recommendations of the study, the Commission adopted resolution 336 on Measures to Protect and Promote the Work of Women Human Rights Defenders.

The resolution calls on State parties to implement concrete measures, identified from the recommendations of the report to protect and promote women human rights defenders' rights. These included ending impunity for crimes committed against them, adopting specific laws and policies to promote and protect the work of human rights defenders and training the judiciary and public security officers and other relevant authorities on the specific risks and protection needs of women human rights defenders.

Noting that State parties have provided scarce information on the steps taken to implement the recommendations of the study, the panellist called on them to inform on the progress made through their periodic reports to the Commission.

Participants also discussed the Commission’s study on freedom of association and assembly in Africa – available here. The study group in charge of putting together this report, recommended that the Commission develop guidelines on freedom of association to help States implement the recommendations of the study.

The guidelines are being drafted and will be presented for the final adoption at the extraordinary session of the Commission in February 2017.


  • Africa
  • Freedom of expression, association and assembly
  • Human rights defenders
  • NGOs
  • Women's rights and WHRD
  • African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights