Part of the work we do at the Gender Unit, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria is to support the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa especially with respect to the popularization as well as the implementation of the Maputo Protocol across Africa
One area of such support is specifically, with regards to state reporting as well as popularising the 2009 reporting guidelines on the Maputo Protocol.
We therefore make 4 brief interventions in this regard.
First, with regards to the ratification and domestication of the Maputo Protocol in the continent
The Centre for Human Rights notes that despite some progress made in the protection and promotion of women’s human rights since the adoption of the Maputo Protocol in 2003; women and girl children across Africa continue to experience increased violations and discriminations. This includes all forms of violence against women, child marriages, harmful practices, Female Genital Mutilation and so on. As we may know, these violations many times have significant negative physical, psychological and emotional consequences on the lives of African women and girl children and in extreme cases result in their deaths.
In light of the above therefore, the Centre for Human Rights would like to strongly urge the 16 African states yet to sign and/ or ratify the Protocol to urgently do so and ensure its domestication where applicable in their respective countries. In particular, while we commend the government of Niger for hosting the 60th Ordinary Session and its warm hospitality, we join the call for the government of Niger to urgently ratify and domesticate the Maputo Protocol. This we believe would serve as a fundamental and significant step in concrete efforts to ensure the promotion and protection of the rights of its women.
Second, with regards to State reporting under the Maputo Protocol
The Centre for Human Rights would like to commend the 38 African States that have so far ratified the Maputo Protocol. These 38 states by their ratification have agreed and consented to ensuring that their women begin to enjoy the human rights that the Maputo Protocol provides for them. In this regard, we would like to commend the Government of Mauritania for fulfilling its reporting obligations particularly on the Maputo Protocol.
However, we note with concern that only about 7 out of the 38 states parties have fulfilled their reporting obligations under the Maputo Protocol. Out of these 7 states parties, very few followed the reporting guidelines under the Maputo Protocol strictly.
In this regard therefore,the Centre for Human Rights reiterates to states parties the importance of reporting especially on the Maputo Protocol. Fulfilling reporting obligations signifies an expression of commitment to the promotion of human rights through implementation of the Maputo Protocol – and through participation in an open and transparent process of accountability
In addition, we would like to remind states parties to the Maputo Protocol of their obligation and commitment under Article 62 of the African Charter and Article 26(1) of the Maputo Protocol to do the following:
a. to submit a report every two years and follow the 2009 Guidelines issued by the African Commission on reporting on the Maputo Protocol
b. to ensure the implementation of the Maputo Protocol at national level in their respective countries and
c. to ensure that in their periodic reports, states parties indicate the legislative and other measures undertaken for the full realisation of the rights of women in their respective countries.
Third, with regards to the 2009 reporting guidelines on the Maputo Protocol.
The Centre for Human Rights notes that although the guidelines were issued by the African Commission in 2009; nearly 8 years ago to guide states parties on how to report particularly under Part B (Maputo Protocol); these guidelines have been scarcely used. In this regard therefore, we wish to draw the attention of states parties to the following when drawing up their reports particularly under the Maputo Protocol
a. States parties must submit its report in 2 parts. Part A deals with the rights in the African Charter and Part B deals with the rights in the Protocol
b. For initial reports, states parties must provide information on the reporting process as well as provide background information
c. States Parties must report on all the provisions and articles of the Maputo Protocol either chronologically or preferably thematically
d. States Parties must explain all measures of implementation in relation to each right or thematically
e. After its initial report, states parties must submit subsequent reports
The Centre for Human Rights has compiled the guidelines in a visually appealing booklet to further assist states parties in drafting PART B of the report which is the Maputo Protocol The guidelines booklet also contains links and other useful information on state reporting and has been translated in the four official languages of the African Commission.
Lastly and to conclude, with regards to concluding observations given particularly under the Maputo Protocol
The Centre for Human Rights strongly urges states parties for example South Africa and Nigeria who have recently engaged constructively with the African Commission through their state reports and have received concluding recommendations to publicise and disseminate these recommendations to their citizens and importantly take concrete efforts to implement the recommendations in their respective countries.