The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) participated in the 5th National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) Forum organised by the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI), the National Human Rights Commission of The Gambia, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission), and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in Banjul, The Gambia from October 19 -20, 2022. The Commission was represented by its Deputy Chief Commissioner Rakeb Messele and Commissioner of Women’s and Children’s Rights, Meskerem Geset.
The theme of the forum was “Trade and Human Rights in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement: Inclusive Implementation of the AfCFTA with Participation of Vulnerable Populations”. A key objective of the forum was to examine the role of NHRIs in advocating for the ratification and implementation of the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment. Commissioner Meskerem Geset was a panelist on Trade and Human Rights and the Roles of NHRIs.
From October 21-29, 2022 EHRC took part in the public proceedings of the African Commission 73rd Ordinary Session, in Banjul, The Gambia. The African Commission, a quasi-judicial body established under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter) to promote and protect human and peoples’ rights in Africa, holds ordinary sessions in the presence of State Parties, NHRIs, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and other stakeholders.
During the session, EHRC presented its statement to the African Commission on situation of human rights in Ethiopia in the inter-session period (May – October 2022), under Agenda Item 4: Human Rights Situation in Africa. EHRC further presented its statement on the activity reports of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa and the Chairperson of the Working Group on the Rights of Older Persons and People with Disabilities in Africa, under Agenda Item 10: Activity Reports of Members of the Commission and Special Mechanisms.
Moreover, members of EHRC participated as panellists in panel discussions held during the session in their capacities as EHRC Commissioners or as independent experts of regional or international human rights mechanisms. On October 22, Commissioner Meskerem Geset presented in the Panel on the African Union Theme of the Year: Year of Nutrition, Strengthening resilience in nutrition and food security on the African Continent. Similarly, Deputy Chief Commissioner Rakeb Messele, reflected on the NHRI perspective on the Panel about the Next Decade of the Addis Ababa Road Map held on October 22, 2022 and the role of NHRIs and NGOs in promoting the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (also known as the Kampala Convention) on the panel on the 10th Anniversary of the Kampala Convention held on October 25, 2022.
On October 29, 2022 Commissioner of Disability Rights and the Rights of Older Persons, Rigbe Gebrehawaria participated as a panellist on the Awareness Raising Panel on the Ratification of the Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons and the Protocol on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa.
Additionally, the EHRC delegation held constructive engagement with some Members of the African Commission including Hon. Mudford Zachariah Mwandenga, Commissioner Rapporteur for the Human Rights Situation in Ethiopia; Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council present at the Session; international non-governmental organisations working on Ethiopia; Ethiopian diaspora civil society organisations; and other stakeholders.
Apart from participating in the African Commission’s Session, the EHRC delegation participated in side-events organised on the margins of the Session on various emerging and thematic human rights issues in Africa.
The following important guidance documents were launched during the public session:
- Compendium of African Human and Peoples’ Rights Law;
- Guidelines on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances in Africa;
- Guidelines on Shadow Reports of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights;
- General Comment 7 of the African Commission: State Obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights in the Context of Private Provision of Social Services and
- The Abidjan SOPs on Torture and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa Newsletter which includes a contribution by EHRC on the Right to Redress in Ethiopia.