In May 20008 The Coalition of African Lesbians [CAL] applied for observer status at the African Commission on Human And People’s Rights [ACHPR]. CAL submitted all the necessary information and documentation that are required to meet the ACHPR’s criteria for eligibility. In October 2010 the ACHPR communicated its decision not to grant observer status to CAL.
Chapter 1 of the resolution on the criteria for for granting and enjoying observer status to non-governmental organizations working in the field of human rights with the African ACHPR on Human and Peoples’ Rights sets out the procedure for application:
- All Non-Governmental Organisations applying for observer status with the African ACHPR on Human and Peoples' Rights shall be expected to submit a documented application to the Secretariat of the ACHPR, with a view to showing their willingness and capability work for the realisation of the objectives of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. Have objectives and activities in consonance with the fundamental principles and objectives enunciated in the OAU Charter and in the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights;
All organisations applying for observer status with the African ACHPR shall consequently:
- Have objectives and activities in consonance with the fundamental principles and objectives enunciated in the OAU Charter and in the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights;
- Be organisations working in the field of human rights
- Declare their financial resources
CAL meets this criteria for eligibility. Over the past few years the ACHPR has been made aware of the violations of lesbians including, arbitrary arrests, violent assaults, murders, among other things in many parts of the continent. The ACHPR, has out of its own accord and in pursuance of its protective mandate asked countries about the treatment of lesbians in member states. The ACHPR has made reference in its reports about the treatment of lgbti people more broadly. The ACHPR receives and considers shadow reports that highlight the treatment of LGBTI people.
CAL is a network of organizations committed to African lesbian equality and visibility. CAL works to transform Africa into a place where all lesbians enjoy the full range of human rights, secure in the knowledge that lesbians are recognised as full citizens, with rich and diverse cultures, are significant and respected presence in all spheres of life, through personal and organizational growth.
The application for observer status is an attempt to provide much needed information about the treatment of lesbians to the ACHPR to enable the ACHPR to exercise its protective mandate. CAL documents the violations of rights of a group whose vulnerability is enhanced because of the intersect between gender and sexual orientation.
The application for observer status does not require the ACHPR to make a finding on claims that lesbians may or not make in the future under the Charter. The criteria require the ACHPR to inquire into whether the organization works on human rights. Human Rights are conferred to all human beings by virtue of being human. Lesbians enjoy the protection of the Rights under the Charter by virtue of being human. The identity of being a lesbian has never been held to constitute a bar to the enjoyment of rights protected under the Charter. The fact that CAL represents lesbians can never be a basis for the rejection of their application for observer status.
This is a decision that goes against the established jurisprudence of the ACHPR. It is arbitrary. It is not supported by law and human rights standards. There is no basis under the African Charter for a decision that refuses lesbians a right of audience with the ACHPR by virtue of the fact that CAL is an organization that seeks to protect the rights of lesbians.
Call to Action
We ask you to send statements, letters and petitions directly to ACHPR demanding that they review their decision as it is against the provisions of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. You can send your letters to:
Dr. Mary Maboreke
African Commission on Human and People’s Rights
31 Bijilo Annex Layout
Kombo North District
Western Region P.O. Box 673 Banjul The Gambia
Tel: (220) 4410 505 - 6
Fax: (220) 4410 504
For further enquiries kindly contact:
Victor Mukasa, Coalition of African Lesbians
Tel: +27 11 918 218
Published on November 4, 2010 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization