Launch of the international campaign against arbitrary detentions

We, civil society organizations1 actives in human rights issues, gathered today, October 7, 2021
at the initiative of the Rencontre Africaine pour la Defense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO),
held a Webinar, in the framework of the 48th Session of the Human Rights Council and in view
of the 133rd Session of the Human Rights Committee, on the fight against arbitrary detention.


Experts, lawyers, activists and human rights defenders analyzed the national, regional and
international legal and institutional framework relating to the issue of arbitrary detention and
the challenges in the implementation of the opinions of the Working Group on Arbitrary
Detention and their implications for the consolidation of the rule of law in Africa.


In this regard, the participants :

Expressed their deep concern about the consequences of States’ inaction or refusal to
implement the opinions of the Committee on Arbitrary Detention despite the devastating
consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic in detention centers in Africa;


Recalled that the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is the only special procedure of the
United Nations Human Rights Council that has quasi-jurisdictional competence and
emphasized in this regard, the provisions of the preamble to the United Nations Charter
stipulating, inter alia, that “States reaffirm their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity
and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and
small, to create conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from
treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained”;


Also recalled all the resolutions of the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights
and of the current Human Rights Council relating to the Working Group, requesting in particular
that “Governments take into account the advice of the Working Group and, where necessary,
take appropriate measures to remedy the situation of persons arbitrarily deprived of their liberty
and to inform the Working Group of the measures they have taken In this regard, the Working
Group’s opinions are based on the fact that these recurrent provisions, which are laid down in
international law among others, constitute, without any ambiguity, a real obligation. On this
basis, the opinions of the Working Group are and must be considered as having a legal value
that is binding on all;


Highlighted the legal and moral responsibilities that would result from inaction or refusal to
implement the opinions of the Committee on Arbitrary Detention and called on States Parties
and the United Nations to take concrete action so that the circulation of the Covid19 in detention
centers in Africa is sufficiently taken into account to justify greater efforts in advocacy and the
steps taken by human rights institutions and to raise awareness of the risks incurred by the States
concerned


Reaffirmed that the issue of arbitrary detentions is in line with the broader field of the rule of
law in Africa, in a context where we are facing a crisis of legitimacy of governing bodies in
many parts of the African continent, including and especially judicial bodies, vis-à-vis citizens;


Deplored that in Africa, we continue to observe processes of instrumentalization of justice
against political leaders or civil society who fight for change and democratic openness and that,
in addition, the slowness of the investigation and judicial procedure lead to deprivation of
liberty, tend systematically to destroy political leaders and actors of civil and economic life.


It is in this constructive spirit that :

We launch a solemn and urgent appeal so that the recommendations of the Working Group
find their best application, and that everywhere the rule of law, justice and the respect of human
rights triumph,


And,

Announce that as our contribution as citizens to the advancement of human rights in Africa and
the consolidation of the rule of law throughout the continent, we have agreed to undertake the
following

  • The establishment of a network of NGOs to follow up on the recommendations of the Working
    Group;
  • Submission of a written communication to the 49th session of the Human Rights Council;
  • Organizing a parallel meeting within the framework of the sessions of the Human Rights
    Council in collaboration with the Working Group with the participation of the different actors
    and victims;
  • Involve the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in organizing a seminar on the issue of arbitrary
    detention and human rights;
  • To elaborate, on the basis of research, an analytical table of the situation of arbitrary detention
    in Africa by region and by country in collaboration with the African Commission on Human
    and Peoples’ Rights;
  • Work to increase the participation and involvement of NGOs, the press and media in the work
    of the Working Group.
    Geneva, October 13, 2021

1 Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO, Representation to the United Nations
in Geneva); Human Rights Watch; World Organization Against Torture (OMCT); Central African Human Rights
Defenders Network; Independent Human Rights Commission for North Africa; and Afrika Jom Center.
Other human rights organizations that were unable to attend the Webinar also support this statement. These
organizations are African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS); International Trade
Centre for Development (CECIDE); Interfaith International, Nord Sud XXI, Inter-African Union for Human
Rights

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