East African countries are lagging behind on their human-rights reports despite signing the African Union Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, which requires the document every two years.
All signatories to the Charter are required to provide the reports to the African Commission on People’s and Human-rights (ACHPR) based in Banjul, Gambia.
Kenya and Rwanda have only reported once since the protocol came into effect in 2005, Uganda and Ethiopia have reported twice and Tanzania five times. Somalia leads the region, having reported 17 times.
Article 62 of the ACHPR requires states to submit a report on the legislative or other measures taken with a view to giving effect to the rights and freedoms of citizens.
The reports are examined in public and state representatives and commissioners engage in constructive dialogue to assist and encourage states to implement the Charter.
EAC partner states are continually faulted by international human-rights organisations and the United Nations Human-rights Council.
South Sudan and Burundi are currently under the spotlight for violating human-rights due to their political instability, while Tanzania has increased its crackdown on the opposition and the media.
In 2017, Kenyan security forces were in the spotlight for violently suppressing the rights of those who were protesting contentious elections.
Patience Mungwari Mpani, the programme manager at the Centre for Human and Women Rights at the University of Pretoria, South Africa told The EastAfrican that African countries have been struggling to comply given that most of them don’t put the human-rights reporting process in their budget.
State reporting is one of the most effective means by which the Commission can ensure the promotion and protection of human-rights.
According to Japhet Biegon, the regional advocacy co-ordinator at Amnesty International, the majority of EAC partner states have traditionally shown disregard for regional human-rights obligations and the bodies and mechanisms mandated to monitor compliance with these obligations.
He said that all the countries in the region, save for Rwanda, are in arrears in the submission of their periodic reports to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Tanzania and Burundi have ignored their reporting obligation for the past 10 and eight years, respectively.
Kenya and Uganda presented their reports in 2015. Their next report was due to be examined in 2018, but this deadline passed without either country submitting its documents.
“The failure of East African countries to meet their reporting obligations reflects their general reluctance, even refusal, to interact with the regional human-rights bodies,” said Mr Biegon.
Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda have ratified the African Court Protocol. But only Tanzania has accepted the jurisdiction of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights to receive complaints from individuals and non-governmental organisations.