African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies

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"The excesses of some African governments in the violation of human rights, to consolidate their grip on power after independence, forced pressure groups both within and outside the continent to lobby the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), to establish a human rights protection mechanism in Africa.

"In July 1979, the OAU Assembly of Heads of State and Government met in Monrovia, Liberia and passed a resolution calling on the OAU Secretary General to form a committee of experts which would draft an African Charter on Human and People's Rights. The Charter was to provide, among other things, "mechanisms to promote and protect the rights of the African people". The group of experts began work on the Charter in 1979 and produced a draft, which was unanimously adopted at the meeting of the OAU Heads of State and Government in Nairobi, Kenya in 1981.

"On 21 October 1986, the Charter came into force. It then became apparent that in order for the Charter to be effective, it had to be explained to, and understood by all and sundry in Africa and its provisions utilised to promote and protect human rights on the continent. This realisation gave birth to the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies. Established by the Government of The Gambia by an Act of Parliament in 1989, The Centre's main objective is to give meaning to Article 25 of the African Charter, which requires States Parties to, "promote and ensure, through teaching, education and publication, respect of the rights and freedoms contained in the Charter and to see to it that these freedoms and rights, as well as corresponding obligations are understood."

"Mr. Hassan Jallow, then Attorney-General, who in fact conceived the idea of the establishment of the African Centre, became the first Chairman of the Governing Council. The Centre's first Director was Mr. Raymond Sock, a Gambian legal practitioner.

"By 1994, events on the continent and in The Gambia in particular, necessitated the need for a review of the Centre's status and activities, resulting in the adoption of new statutes, that guaranteed its autonomy as a pan-African and independent international NGO.

"The Governing Council was reconstituted and an Advisory Committee of eminent international resource persons were appointed. The position of Director was upgraded to that of Executive Director and Zambian-born, Mrs. Zoe Mumbi Tembo, then Programme Co-ordinator, was appointed to the position to succeed Mr. Raymond Sock, the first Director of the Institution. Since 2001, the Centre is managed by Mrs. Hannah J. Forster, who had previously served as Programmes Officer and Head of Information, respectively...

"The Centre is governed by a Pan-African Council, whose Chairman is Mr. Mohamed Genedy, an Egyptian human rights lawyer. The Governing Council comprises 11 African members and includes a number of international advisors, appointed in their own capacities as eminent human rights functionaries. It meets twice a year. These Advisors make up the Advisory Committee, but do not have voting rights. " [1]



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  1. Home, African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, accessed May 18, 2010.