The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, delivered its statement on the human rights situation in Africa at the ongoing 75th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Commission), on 4 May 2023.

Delivering the statement on behalf of the Centre, Lloyd Kuveya, Deputy Director (Advocacy), expressed the Centre’s deep concern over the shrinking civic space in Africa. Lloyd Kuveya stated that there is ‘an observable trend of implicit criminalisation of human rights advocacy and public participation in African countries. He highlighted examples from Burundi where law enforcement officials are targeting civil society actors, Togo’s criminalisation of seditious singing and shouting under article 497 of the Penal Code, and the defamation against a public official in Tunisia under article 128 of the Penal Code of Tunisia. The Centre notes that these examples illustrate the pervasive violation and restriction of civil and political rights in Africa.

The statement also expressed the Centre’s concern over the ongoing conflict situation in Ethiopia, Sudan, Eswatini and Zimbabwe. The Centre called on the Commission to join the African Union to condemn these conflicts as they undermine human rights development on the continent. To address these conflicts, Kuveya said:

“the Centre implores the Commission to stress the importance of accountability and justice for the millions who have suffered from these conflicts. We urge the African Commission to conduct a fact finding mission to Eswatini on extra-judicial killings, including the assassination of Thulani Maseko. We call on the African Commission to urge Zimbabwe authorities to stop using the criminal justice system to persecute political activists and release Job Sikhala and Jacob Ngarivhume. We urge the African Commission to continue monitoring the situation in the four countries, guiding stakeholders towards necessary measures to end the conflict, protect human rights, and ensure accountability for these severe violations.”   

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The Centre also commended the Commission on the adoption of Resolution 552 on the promotion and protection of the rights of intersex persons in Africa at its 74th ordinary session on 7 March 2023. The Centre however remains concerned over the language in Resolution 552 which refers to intersex persons as ‘persons born with an inherent handicap’. The Centre notes that such language in the Resolution may perpetuate the pathologising of intersex persons and thereby serve as a justification for non-consensual and harmful medical surgeries and treatments. The Centre also noted that despite the progressive adoption of Resolutions 275 and 552, the Commission regressed through the denial of observer status to Alternative Cote d’Ivoire, Human Rights First Rwanda and Synergia-Initiative for Human Rights as organisations that promote the rights of sexual and gender minorities in Africa, on the basis that sexual orientation is not an expressed protected ground under the Charter; and that granting such status would, in the Commission’s view, have been against ‘African values’.

As part of its regional engagement the Centre also held a dinner meeting with the Chairperson of the Commission, Prof Remmy Lumbu, in collaboration with Synergia. The Centre also held a special lunch meeting with Commissioner Mudford Mwandenga, the Chairperson of the working group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Africa. The aim of these meeting was to enhance the Centre’s working relationship the Commission towards the implementation of the rights in the African Charter.

On 2 May 2023, the Centre also hosted a hybrid side event on Resolution 552 on the protection and promotion of the rights of intersex persons in Africa. The side event was organised by the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC) Unit and was attended by numerous civil society organisations, human rights scholars and activists from within and outside Africa. The side event focused on the meaning of Resolution 552 in terms of the obligations of states and the responsibilities of non-state actors under the African Charter regarding intersex persons in Africa.

The 75th session of the Commission is being held in Banjul, the Gambia from 3 to 27 May 2023. The Centre is represented by Lloyd Kuveya and Landilani Banda, Manager of the SOGIESC Unit.

For more information please contact:

Prof Frans Viljoen
Centre for Human Rights

Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 3228
Fax: +27 (0) 86 580 5743


Lloyd Kuveya
Assistant Director Operations
Centre for Human Rights

Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 3810
Fax: +27 (0) 86 580 5743


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