n African Human Rights Law Journal - Human rights developments in the African Union during 2016 - recent developments

Volume 17 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1609-073X
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2096



During the year 2016 several significant normative developments were recorded in the African human rights system. The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa was adopted but is yet to be ratified by any member state. The African Court delivered three merit decisions dealing with the right to fair trial and the right to political participation: a judgment on reparations; one ruling on jurisdiction; and one ruling on a review application. Despite this positive outlook, Rwanda’s withdrawal of its article 34(6) declaration allowing direct access by individuals and NGOs posed a real challenge to the Court’s legitimacy in cases with sensitive political implications. Both the African Commission and African Children’s Committee made progress on the examination of state reports. As far as communications are concerned, the African Commission delivered seven merit decisions, while the African Children’s Committee delivered two decisions on the merits and one ruling on admissibility. The African Children’s Committee’s decision on the age of childhood in Malawi, which was reached through an amicable settlement, led to constitutional amendments increasing the age of adulthood from 16 to 18 years. Finally, the trial and conviction of former Chadian dictator, Hissène Habré, by the Extraordinary African Chambers served as a breath of fresh air in the fight against impunity for human rights violations in Africa.

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