Rwanda has reiterated it is sticking to its decision to withdraw the declaration under Article 34(6) — of the protocol that created the African Court on Human and People’s Rights (AfCHPR) — blocking non-governmental organisations and individuals from access to the AfCHPR.
Through its Ministry of Justice, Rwanda deposited the withdrawal on February 2016, just over three years after depositing the declaration, arguing that it was intended to prevent exploitation of the individuals complaint procedure by criminals who took part in the 1994 genocide and subsequently fled the country.
Since then, there have been numerous calls from the Court and various stakeholders to have that decision rescinded.
The latest such calls are from the Pan African Lawyers’ Union (PALU) executive director Donald Deya, who told The EastAfrican in an interview in Arusha recently, that Rwanda had made a “huge mistake.”
“The country was misguided by its legal brains. This is going to complicate President Paul Kagame’s chairmanship of the African Union. I hope Rwanda rescinds this decision,” said Mr Deya.
However, Rwanda’s Justice Minister Johnston Busingye said the declaration is a unilateral, sovereign prerogative.
“PALU and stakeholders should take comfort in the knowledge that the countries including Rwanda are aware of the existence of this protocol prerogative” he said.
Nicholas Opio, a Ugandan human rights lawyer, echoed concerns that Rwanda’s actions could slow down the ratifications of the protocol that establishes the court.
“What this has done is to slow down not just the Rwandan case but also perhaps embolden other states not to ratify the protocol because if a country has ratified it and pulls out, then surely something must be wrong,” said Mr Opio.