African Commission considers country situations - live coverage


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ISHR’s live Tweeting of the 56th regular session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR), currently under way, has shown both encouraging, and at times troubling, developments on civil society and human rights defender protections in Africa. ISHR is tweeting under the hashtag #ACHPR56 from the @ISHRglobal Twitter account.

Earlier this week, tweeting focused on the presentation of State Periodic Reports and their review by the Commission. ISHR had submitted briefing papers on Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

At the ACHPR, countries present reports on their human rights record, and engage in discussion with the Commissioners about the contents of the reports.


The discussions started positively. Djibouti commented to the Commission how it felt about a law to protect human rights defenders:


In other positive signs, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression congratulated Niger on being the first African country to decriminalise defamation. However, questions were raised about the true independence of the Niger’s NGOs and justice system, as well as its dismissive response about the treatment of journalists and human rights defenders, especially those engaged in peaceful protest:


In another sobering note, Ethiopia seemed to sugar-coat its defence of freedoms of association and expression in the country:

Ethiopia went on to justify, reject, and justify some more…

And yet, as ISHR published in an ACHPR briefing paper recently, Ethiopia’s laws do not meet international standards:

Since April 26 last year, the so-called ‘Zone 9 Bloggers’ have remained in detention for reporting on social and political issues in Ethiopia. The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, on Torture, and on Freedom of Expression, all expressed concern at Ethiopia’s inadequate response after recent calls for their release:


In Uganda’s review, the Commission applauded the country’s passing of Access to Information regulations, but criticized it for charging a fee for information.

The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders also criticized Uganda for submitting recycled information the 56th ACHPR, and challenged Uganda’s failure to protect civil society and human rights defenders, especially LGBT and SOGI activists:

ISHR tweeted about Uganda’s resounding silence in response. The State promised written follow-up to the review:


When Malawi’s State report came under review, the Working Group asked:

Malawi was urged to grant civil society access to information regarding extractive industries, especially contracts with foreign mining companies:


Nigeria’s State report also came under review, for which a recently-submitted ISHR briefing paper highlighted the particular vulnerabilities of LGBTI defenders, women human rights defenders, and journalists:

ISHR also tweeted details of many of the report presentations made by the Commission’s Special Mechanisms, as well as State and NGO responses to these reports. Details can be found under the hashtag #ACHPR56 at ISHR’s Twitter @ISHRglobal.

Other developments around the Commission session

A new and timely ACHPR report on the right to freedom of assembly and association in Africa, which ISHR wrote about earlier this week, was launched:

And ISHR’s Advocacy and Communications Manager, Ben Leather, and African Commission Advocacy Coordinator, Clement Voulé, distributed ISHR global publications to eager human rights defenders:


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