IJRC to Host Training for Advocates Attending African Commission Session

The International Justice Resource Center (IJRC) in collaboration with the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) and the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA) will hold a training from 09:00 to 10:30 on October 30, 2017 at the Kairaba Hotel in Banjul, The Gambia, ahead of the 61st Ordinary Session of the African Commission of Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR). The training, which will take place at the seat of the ACHPR in Banjul, seeks to provide human rights defenders, advocates, and victims with updated tools and strategies for conducting research on sources in international human rights law, State compliance with human rights obligations, and national legislation and jurisprudence. As part of its 61st Ordinary Session, which begins on November 1, 2017, the ACHPR will celebrate its 30th anniversary; the ACHPR will use the commemoration to assess the progress of the Commission and to develop strategies for the future promotion of human rights in Africa. [ACHPR: Anniversary] IJRC invites all attendees of the 61st Ordinary Session and preceding NGO Forum to attend this training. For more information, see IJRC’s event flyer and training description.

IJRC also wishes to call attention to the recent arrest in Tanzania of ISLA executive director, Sibongile Ndashe, and 12 other advocates. These human rights defenders were arrested while participating in a workshop on planned litigation to challenge Tanzania’s restrictions on clinics and lubricants helping to stop the spread of HIV. [HRW] The police arrested the lawyers and activists for “promoting homosexuality,” a crime that reportedly does not appear on the Tanzanian criminal code; although they remained in detention, they had yet to be formally charged as of October 25, 2017. [ISLA; Daily Nation] Tanzania is among the countries that still criminalize same-sex conduct. See ILGA, Sexual Orientation Laws in the World – Criminalisation. Authorities have carried out similar arrests over the past year, as part of an intensified crackdown on the LGBT community. [AP; NewsDeeply; Guardian] IJRC has signed on to calls for their immediate release without charge, and looks forward to seeing our ISLA partners in Banjul.

Banjul Training Details

Because there is no one centralized database of human rights law, conducting research in international human rights law is a labor-intensive exercise that requires using multiple databases, each with its own limitations. IJRC’s joint training seeks to equip advocates with the tools they need to adequately research issues of international human rights law.

The training will focus on imparting practical knowledge to attendees and will feature three panelists: Lisa Reinsberg, the Executive Director of IJRC; Gaye Sowe, the Executive Director of IHRDA; and, Tarisayi Yoland Radu, legal researcher at ISLA. The panelists will address the utility and limitations of a range of online legal research tools, highlighting the best databases for researching treaties, case law, and other sources of law.

The training will consist of four parts. Lisa Reinsberg of IJRC will start the training with a review of the online tools available for research on sources of international human rights law –  international human rights treaty texts and ratifications, soft law (such as resolutions and declarations), and human rights mechanisms’ judgment and decisions – and on States’ implementation of human rights obligations. Next, Gaye Sowe of IHRDA will teach attendees how to use “The Case Law Analyser,” which is a database maintained by IHRDA that collects the human rights decisions of African supra-national mechanisms. Tarisayi Yoland Radu of ISLA will then walk through a case study to demonstrate the practicality of the methods discussed earlier in the training.

IJRC will provide training attendees with a Human Rights 101 Toolkit tailored to advocacy work within the African system and the universal system, as it applies to countries within the African region. The Toolkit includes IJRC’s guide to Researching in International Human Rights Law; manual on Advocacy before the African Human Rights System; one-page snapshots of the African Commission, African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child; country factsheets summarizing the human rights obligations of each of the 55 Member States of the African Union; and, guides on the exhaustion of domestic remedies requirement in the continental African and universal human rights bodies’ complaints processes.

ACHPR’s 61st Ordinary Session & 30th Anniversary Celebrations

In addition to its usual work, the ACHPR will also host special celebrations in honor of the Commission’s 30th anniversary at this year’s second ordinary session. [ACHPR: Anniversary] Celebrations will include presentations and reports on the work and progress of the Commission, as well as on human rights in Africa more generally. [ACHPR: Anniversary] The events will also include an award ceremony recognizing organizational and State efforts made in the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa. [ACHPR: Awards]

The celebrations will draw numerous human rights stakeholders to assess the impact and future of the ACHPR. [ACHPR: Anniversary] Those attending will include State representatives, NGOs, academics, students, religious leaders, traditional chiefs, media, and representatives from intergovernmental organizations. [ACHPR: Anniversary] The stated goal of the commemoration is to assess methods of moving the human rights agenda forward in Africa. [ACHPR: Anniversary]

The ACHPR, which promotes and protects human rights in the 54 Member States of the African Union that have ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, holds two ordinary sessions a year during which the ACHPR considers periodic reports submitted by States parties, as well as reports from members of the Commission and its special mechanisms (rapporteurs, committees and working groups).

Additional Information

For more information on IJRC’s upcoming training, see our event flyer and training description. To learn more about the ACHPR or researching international human rights law, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.