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Individual and NGO Access to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights: The Latest Blow from Tanzania

Published on December 16, 2019        Author: 

 

Recently, reports emerged (here and here) that the Tanzanian government withdrew its declaration allowing individuals and NGOs to directly submit applications against it at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR). Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Prof. Palamagamba Kabudi signed the notice of withdrawal on 14 November 2019, and the African Union Commission received it on 21 November 2019.

Beyond the official withdrawal notice, the Tanzanian government has not made any additional statements clarifying or justifying its decision. Based on the timing, some have implied the withdrawal could be connected to a recent case (Ally Rajabu and Others v. United Republic of Tanzania) concerning Tanzania’s mandatory death sentence for murder convictions. However, considering the Court’s many judgments against Tanzania over the years (discussed below), it is more likely that this decision was in the making for quite some time.

The human rights community has been swift in its response. 20 civil society organizations issued a joint statement and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights tweeted to condemn Tanzania’s decision and urge the government to reconsider.

While Tanzania is still a member of the African Court, withdrawing its declaration allowing individuals and NGOs to bring cases against it is significant not only for Tanzanians’ human rights protections, but also for the African Court as an institution. Cases against Tanzania account for a major portion of its caseload, and Tanzania—the Court’s host state—is the second state to withdraw this declaration.

Article 34(6) declarations for individual and NGO access to the African Court: the main pipeline for cases Read the rest of this entry…

 
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‘Legacy Talk’ at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

Published on May 2, 2016        Author: 

As mentioned in Marko Milanovic’s recent post, the American Journal of International Law will soon publish a Symposium at the occasion of the closure of the ad hoc tribunals. Marko’s article considers the impact of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). We were asked to reflect upon the legacy and impact of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). An advance (original and longer) version is available here.

Before turning to the ICTR’s potential legacies, our article explores the ways in which the concept of “legacy” can be understood in the context of an international criminal tribunal. Although rarely defined and even less frequently theorised, the term has recently been much in vogue in international criminal law, so much so that Viviane Dittrich has observed a “legacy turn” within the field.  Even before it closed down, the ICTR dedicated human resources, a website and a video to publicise its legacy.

As the ICTR’s legacy website and video demonstrate, the Tribunal has made claims about its legacy in no uncertain terms. For instance, the video lists the Tribunal’s monumental contributions to international criminal law, but it also describes a much broader impact: “a record of legal reform in Rwanda, and outreach, education, legal training, and healing.” The narrator claims, “today in Rwanda, it’s safe to listen to the radio again: the sound is of a nation rebuilding.” Yet the film’s final words are not about Rwanda, but affirm “a world pushing forward despite great imperfection, each day closer to a time when international law offers justice to all people, everywhere.”

This rhetoric about one’s own legacy exemplifies what we call ‘legacy talk’. Unlike legacy planning, which concerns ensuring that there will be something to leave behind, legacy talk attempts to consolidate a set of interpretations about what is left. Read the rest of this entry…

 
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