Falana Drags African Commission to African Court for Refusal to Refer Burundi Petition

African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

A human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has dragged the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights over the refusal of the commission to refer the Burundi petition he filed on May 4, 2015 to the court.

The application to the court dated August 10, 2015 and addressed to the Chief Registrar, Robert Eno, reads in part “This application follows the communication I initiated on 4 May 2015 and submitted to the African Commission regarding the systematic and widespread violations of human rights in Burundi.”

The Applicant requested the African Commission to refer the communication to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”

“However, to date the African Commission has failed and/or neglected to refer the Communication to the African Court despite the request being brought pursuant to Rules 84(2) and 118(3)(4) of the Rules of Procedure of the African Commission.

“The failure and/or refusal of the African Commission to refer the Communication to the African Court has continued to deny access of the victims of human rights violations in Burundi to justice and effective remedies.”

“Hence, the present Application to the African Court to hear the Applicant pursuant to Rule 29 of the Rules of Procedure in order to prevent a miscarriage of justice to the victims of human rights violations in Burundi.”

“This application is brought pursuant to Rule 29 of the Rules of Procedure of the African Court, which states that the court may if it deems it necessary to hear under rule 45 the individual or NGO that initiated a communication to the African commission pursuant to the Charter.”

“The Communication to the African Commission specifically relates to the continuing human rights violations by the government of Burundi, in particular the attacks against peaceful protesters, journalists and human rights activists, following protests over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term. The Communication relates to a multiple violations of the rights of the people of Burundi to life, personal liberty, freedom of expression, association and assembly, guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Burundi is a state party.”

“Access to justice requires the ability of victims to seek and obtain remedies for wrongs through institutions of justice, formal or informal, in conformity with human rights standards. It is essential for the protection and promotion of all other human rights.”

“Access to justice is of particular importance in this application given the gravity of the issues raised in the Applicant’s Communication before the African Commission, including violations of the right to life and to the dignity of the human person by the Burundian authorities.”

“This Application raises issues of both procedural fairness and substantive justice, including fair, just and equitable remedies for violations of human rights of Burundians.”

“A particular dimension of access to justice relates to overcoming long-standing and persistent cases of injustices and human rights violations as it is the case in the Applicant’s Communication against Burundi. Injustices against the victims of human rights violations in Burundi that remain un-remedied constitute a continuing affront to the dignity of the victims. This contributes to continued mistrust towards the perpetrators of human rights violations, especially when it is the State that claims authority over the victims.”

“The Applicant argues that access to justice entails the right of the victims of human rights violations in Burundi to have their case heard by an impartial and competent tribunal. This is exactly what the African Court provides to the victims of human rights violations in Burundi who continue to be denied access to justice and effective remedies.”

“Since the Burundian authorities have not fulfilled their primary responsibility to provide equitable access to justice to victims of human rights violations, especially to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, the African Court is urged to rely on its Rules of Procedure including Rule 29 to hear the Applicant on the violations of human rights in Burundi. Without the urgent intervention of the African Court, the victims of human rights violations in Burundi will continue to be denied access to justice, and the misconduct of the government will continue with impunity.”

Mr Falana therefore prayed the African Court to request the African Commission to refer the Communication against Burundi initiated before it on 4 May 2010 to the African Court. He also asked the African Court to hear his application pursuant to Rule 29 of the Rules of Procedure of the African Court and the inherent jurisdiction of the Honourable Court.

Signed Tayo Soyemi

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Source: Premium Times

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