EDITORIAL: African Court digging its own grave

A lot of noise was made early this week when Tanzania announced that it was blocking individuals and NGOs from lodging cases against it before the African Court on Human and People’s Rights.

Even though the seat of the court is in Tanzania, nearly half of the 70 decisions made in the last three months were against Tanzania. Just last week, eight judgments were read; six were against Tanzania, one was against Benin and the other one was against the Republic of Rwanda.


Rwanda cut ties with the court in 2016 after realising that it was being used as a political tool instead of serving its true purpose; protecting human rights. It will not long before other countries read into the whole game now that Tanzania has set the tone.


Back to the judgment made last week against Rwanda.


Seven individuals filed a lawsuit challenging the government’s decision to withdraw their passports because of their membership in a terror group.

Their many violent acts and public declarations of war against Rwanda were not enough to convince the court that a country had the right to curtail the movements of people intent to harm a sovereign country.

The court’s conclusions were also of utmost surprise:

“The Court noted that the Respondent State had not provided proof that its action in this regard was based on the Applicants’ use of the passports in an inappropriate manner…”

If someone is traversing borders to get military support to attack the population from a third country, using its passport, if that is not using the travel document “in an inappropriate manner” nothing is.

After Rwanda and Tanzania, it would be interesting to know which other country is next on the receiving end? Maybe it is time for the African Union to revisit the Protocol, otherwise it will end up with an empty and expensive shell.


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