New appointments at the African Commission

27.11.2015

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African Commission welcomes new Chairperson

Commissioner Faith Pansy Tlakula from South Africa was elected to the position of Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) at the ACHPR 57th session. She replaces Commissioner Zainabo Sylvie Kayitesi, from Rwanda, who remains the ACHPR Chairperson of the Working Group on the death penalty and extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary killings in Africa.

Commissioner Tlakula has previously worked as the ACHPR Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression and access to information. In this role, she has been tasked with analysing Member States' media laws and policies, and reports on violations of press freedom. Most recently, she has called on Member States to adopt laws that permit access to information. Commissioner Tlakula will continue to serve in this mandate while taking on her new role as Chairperson of the ACHPR.

No stranger to the human rights sector, Commissioner Tlakula is the former Chair of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa, has served as a member of the South African Human Rights Commission and is an advocate at the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa. She holds a Masters degree from Harvard Law in the United States and Bachelor of Law degree from Witwatersrand University, in South Africa.

New Chairperson of the Working Group on extractive industries, environment and human rights violations

Commissioner Dr Solomon Ayele Dersso was to the role of Chairperson of the Working Group on extractive industries, environment and human rights violations at the same session. He replaces Commissioner Pacifique Manirakiza from Burundi. The mandate of the Working Group calls for it to, amongst other things, examine the impact of extractive industries in Africa within the context on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Commissioner Dr Dersso is a legal scholar and a known analyst of security and current affairs in Africa. He initiated and launched a new yearly publication called the Annual Review of the Peace and Security Council, for which he was awarded the Institute for Security Studies Innovation Award in 2014. Commissioner Dr Dersso is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of African Union Studies and recently served as a legal advisor to the African Union High Level Panel on Sudan Team of Experts on the Border Disputes between Sudan and South Sudan.

He attained his PhD degree from the School of Law University of Witwatersrand in 2009. His research interests include the African Union system and international and African law.

New Commissioner and Chairperson for the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Commissioner Jamesina Essie Leonora King is the first Sierra Leonean woman to be sworn in as a Commissioner of the ACHPR. She took her oath during the 57th ordinary session. Her appointment coincides with the Government of Sierra Leone presenting its first combined State periodic report before the Commission. ISHR welcomes her election and sees it a positive step, illustrating her Government’s commitment to human rights.

In 2007, Commissioner King was the first Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) and she served in that capacity for two years. She is currently serving her second and final term as Commissioner for the HRCSL.

Prior to this, she has worked as a private legal practitioner in a law firm from 1994 to 2006. The Commissioner is a strong advocate of women’s empowerment, peace, security and gender equality.

She holds a postgraduate degree from Georgetown University Law Centre, Washington D.C. and a certificate in “Implementing Human Rights Conventions” from the University of Nottingham Human Rights Law Centre in the UK. She is a leadership advocate for Women in Africa (LAWA), a Fellow and past President of Legal Access through Women Yearning for Equality Rights and Social Justice, an organisation of female lawyers in Sierra Leone dedicated to enhancing women’s access to justice.