African Court Judge Urges Uganda To Deposit Declaration
By Catherine Ageno
Uganda’s failure to deposit the declaration to entitle individuals to access the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) has been cited as one of the obstacles to effective promotion of human rights in the country.
Uganda has ratified The Protocol on the Establishment of the Court but her citizens cannot access the court before that declaration is deposited.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with KFM, Justice Solomy Balungi Bbosa, a judge at the Arusha-based court blames the delay on fear by the leaders that once the declaration is made, flood gates will be opened.
“We have identified not only for Uganda but for other countries the fear of the unknown. They fear that if the flood gates are opened people will come to the AfCHPR and detractors of the govt will seize the opportunity to embarass it. But the states have failed to realise that individuals and NGOs cannot access the Court until all domestic remedies are exhausted”, said Justice Bbosa.
She however dismisses such fears as misplaced because the declaration is not about the governments.
“This declation is not about the powers that be, its about the rights of individuals and the opportunities given to them to take their grievances to the Court if they feel they have not been helped by the local justice systems”.
Justice Bbosa is now asking that as the country commemorates the human rights day, government considers depositing the instrument as a matter of urgency.
She says the fact that a few states have filed the declaration is a big impediment to access to the Court.
Todate 30 of the 54 African States including Uganda have ratified the protocol but only 7 have deposited the declaration that allows individuals and NGOs to institute cases before the Court in accourdance with Article 34 of the Protocol. One state (Rwanda) has withdrawn the declation.
The Protocol that establishes the Court was adopted by member states of the then Organization of African Unity in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on June 9, 1998.
It then came into force on January 25, 2004, after it was ratified by more than 15 countries and the AfCHPR became operational in November 2006 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, before moving to its current seat in Arusha, Tanzania.