President Kikwete of Tanzania says African court on human and peoples’ rights has recorded tremendous progress and is optimistic of its future

The President of the United Republic of Tanzania H.E Dr Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete has said that the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) has recorded tremendous achievements in just a decade of its existence and was optimistic of its future.

”It has lived up to its mandate and to the satisfaction of the [AU] Member States,” he said yesterday when launching the Kiswahili version of the Basic Facts Booklet of the Court at its premises in Arusha, Tanzania, during a visit to bid farewell to the Judges and staff.

Impressed with the work of the Court, President Kikwete in a spontaneous move pledged $100,000 for the Court’s Legal Aid Scheme H.E Dr Kikwete is stepping down next month after serving the constitutional two fixed five year terms as the President of his country.

Tanzania’s President added that there was a lot of optimism over the future of the Court. ”My optimism is based on two important developments. First, there is an increasing cry among African leaders and the people of this great continent of ours for this Court to also take charge of International Crimes….Secondly, there is an Increasing demand by the peoples of Africa for access to this Court,” he stated.

During the occasion, President Kikwete urged the African court to lobby, through sensitisation and road shows, for the 25 countries that have not ratified the Protocol to do so, and encourage those 21 countries which have ratified but yet to recognize the competence of the court to do the needful.

“You will need the support of member states that have already done both or one of the two. Tanzania stands ready to support you in this noble endeavour,” he assured.

He also said that efforts were underway to build the permanent court buildings in Arusha and 20 acres have been allocated for the purpose.

The President of the African Court Hon. Justice Augustino Ramadhani thanked the Tanzanian government for sending a team of architects to Addis Ababa to discuss drawings of the proposed permanent seat, adding that an approval is awaited from the AUC for the way forward.

Regarding the launching of the Kiswahili Basic Fact Booklet, Hon Justice Ramadhani said it was intended to promote the Court to the Swahili speaking world, which makes up about one-third of Africa.

The occasion was also attended by the Judges of the Court who are currently attending the 38th Ordinary Session of the Court.

Twenty nine (29) AU countries have ratified but only seven (7) of them have made the Declaration. The seven are: Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Malawi, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Source: African Union Commission (AUC) (ARUSHA, Tanzania)

Photo Credit: ITU / V. Martin, Flickr: Jakaya Kikwete press conference, 26 January 2011

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