The African Union (AU) is a union of 54 African states, which aims to build political, economic and social unity. The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, based in Banjul, Gambia, is an AU structure charged with promoting and protecting human rights in Africa. PEN International supports and promotes African efforts to create democratic institutions, develop good governance and strengthen human rights.
Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights provides for the right to freedom of expression:
1. Every individual shall have the right to receive information.
2. Every individual shall have the right to express and disseminate his opinions within the law.
Linguistic rights are protected under Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights:
Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognised and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or any status.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information
A Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to examine and report back on a specific situation. The current Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Expression and Access to Information is Faith Pansy Tlakula of South Africa.
The post was created in 2004, and the Rapporteur’s mandate includes:
• analysing national media legislation, policies and practice within Member States, monitoring their compliance with freedom of expression and access to information standards, and advising Member States accordingly;
• undertaking fact-finding missions to Member States from where reports of systemic violations of the right to freedom of expression and denial of access to information have reached the attention of the Special Rapporteur and making appropriate recommendations to the African Commission;
• making public interventions where violations of the right to freedom of expression and access to information have been brought to her attention, by issuing public statements, press releases, and sending appeals to Member States asking for clarifications;
• keeping a proper record of violations of the right to freedom of expression and denial of access to information and publish this in her reports submitted to the African Commission; and
• submitting reports at each Ordinary Session of the African Commission on the status of the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression and access to information in Africa.
The reports of the Special Rapporteur can be accessed here.
The Special Rapporteur’s mandate includes collecting and recording violations of the right to freedom of expression in Africa. PEN Centres can assist in the fulfilment of this mandate by submitting information and highlighting urgent cases to the Special Rapporteur.
Contact details of the Office of the Special Rapporteur can be found here.