The 38th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights took place in Banjul, The Gambia from 21st November to 5th December 2005

The 38th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) was attended by a total of 282 people, representing 22 state parties, 9 national human rights institutions, 6 intergovernmental organisations and 135 African and international NGOs. A total of 14 indigenous representatives participated in the 38th session. IWGIA facilitated and supported the participation of 11 representatives, and 3 were supported by the ILO.

The issue of the rights of indigenous peoples is very visible on the agenda of the ACHPR by now and the increasing number of indigenous NGOs obtaining observer status contributes positively to this development. Under the agenda item of human rights situation in Africa, the following organizations made statements on the human rights situation of indigenous peoples in Africa:

  • IPACC
  • MPIDO
  • IMPACT
  • OWC
  • IWGIA

During the session, period report of South Africa was examined and during this examination questions were asked about the situation of indigenous peoples and the response of the South African government to the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Issues.

Out-going Commissioner Chigovera, chair of the ACHPR Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa presented the Working Group's progress report outlining the activities carried out so far and the plans for the next period. The activities carried out include a mission to the Republic of Botswana and to the Republic of Namibia. The mission planned for Kenya in September could not materialise because the Secretariat did not receive any response from the Government of the Republic of Kenya to the Working Group's request to visit the country. During the same intersession period, the Working Group also undertook information/ Research visits to Libya and the Republic of Congo to gather information on the situation of indigenous populations in those countries.

An extensive distribution of the Working Group's report has been initiated during the intersession period (for more information about the Report, click here). Demand for the report has been, and still is, high and very positive feedback has been received concerning the report. NGOs and indigenous representatives, in particular, have commented that the report is highly useful for their human rights work and that it provides them with powerful arguments in the dialogue with national authorities.

The Working Group intends to undertake the following activities during the forthcoming intersession:

- information/research visits (to Ethiopia, Uganda and Algeria)

- intensifying the distribution of the report (English/French version)

- publication and distribution of the Arabic version of the report

- country missions to Niger and Tanzania

- a regional seminar for the Central African region

- the production of a user-friendly fact sheet or pamphlet on the work of the Working Group

- the publication of a quarterly newsletter entitled "Indigenous Africa" that will inform the public of the work of the Working Group, the activities of other organisations working on indigenous issues and any other information regarding indigenous issues on the continent

- provide a comprehensive database of organisations working on indigenous issues in Africa

- make a comparative study of the legislation of African countries and the extent they protect the rights of indigenous populations.

Read the Progress report for the ACHPR Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa, from the period between 37th and 38th ordinary sessions of the ACHPR

Statement by IPACC, South Africa

On the situation of indigenous peoples in Africa

Statement by MPIDO, Kenya

On the situation of indigenous peoples in Kenya – with special reference to the Maasai community

Statement by IMPACT, Kenya

On the situation of indigenous peoples in Kenya

Statement by IWGIA

On the situation of indigenous peoples in Africa

For more information about the ACHPR you can visit ACHPR's website at: http://www.achpr.org

Visit also the website of The African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies at: http://www.acdhrs.org