By Francis Ameyibor, GNA
Accra, Aug. 9, GNA – The African Court on Human and People’s Rights in collaboration with the Sierra Leonean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, has empowered the country’s citizenry on the jurisprudence of the continental court.
The public sensitization of the Sierra Leoneans forms part of the African Courts broad objective to interact with different stakeholders in order to deepen their understanding of the Court’s mission.
It was also to encourage the State authorities to ratify the Protocol establishing the African Court and to deposit the declaration under Article 34(6) of the protocol, which allows direct access to the Court by NGOs and individuals.
Justice Sylvian Ore President of the African Court explained to the participants that, the continental court has jurisdiction over all cases and disputes submitted to it concerning the interpretation and application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (the Charter), the Protocol and any other relevant human rights instrument ratified by the states concerned.
Speaking at a day’s seminar in Freetown as part of the African Court’s Regional Stakeholder Engagement, Justice Ore explained that the Court had two types of jurisdiction: contentious and advisory.
Justice Ore said the African Court may receive complaints and/or applications submitted to it either by the African Commission of Human and Peoples' Rights or State parties to the Protocol or African Intergovernmental Organizations.
He said Non-Governmental Organizations with observer status before the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and individuals from States which have made a Declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the Court can also institute cases directly before the Court.
The seminar which was on the theme; “Strengthening and protecting Human Rights in Africa” was attended by officials from Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs), representatives of Parliament, Human Rights Organisations, the Diplomatic and Consular Corps and Civil Society Organisations.
Dr Alie Kabba, Sierra Leone, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said President Dr. Julius Maada Bio’s new direction for Sierra Leone, firmly articulated the need to prioritise human rights in the governance of the country.
He said President Bio has committed to seriously consider the request from the African Court for Sierra Leone to ratify the Protocol for the establishment of the African Court after studying the case for doing so.
“Sierra Leone is already a member of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and has signed the protocol on the establishment of the African Court,” he added.
The Foreign Minister assured the African Court delegation of his Ministry’s preparedness and readiness to execute the President’s directive in this regard.
“Let me express my Ministry’s immense appreciation to the African Court delegation for visiting Sierra Leone to sensitise high level political leaders and other stakeholders on the benefits of the ratification of the Protocol Establishing the African Court,” Dr. Kabba concluded.
Mr Alimamy Sesay, Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice reiterated the New Direction programme which among other things sought to strengthen the protection of human rights.
He assured that the office of the Attorney General and Justice Ministry will work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and all sectoral MDAs and cooperate with civil society organisations, to get government to work towards considering the ratification of the protocol and deposit the requisite declaration.
“It is our hope that, Sierra Leone will be the 31st Member State to ratify the Protocol and the ninth State Party to make the declaration pursuant to Article 34(6) aforesaid, allowing direct access to your court by individuals and non-governmental organisations,” Mr. Sesay said.
Dr Michael Kargbo, Deputy Director General for Policy and Technical Cooperation for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, chaired the seminar.