The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and the promotion and protection of refugees' rights
Mujuzi, Jamil Ddamulira
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African countries have been host to and have produced refugees for decades. These refugees have fled their countries for various reasons, including political and religious reasons. Many African countries are party to the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its additional Protocol of 1967. In 1969, the Organisation of African Unity Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, the major instrument that deals with the rights and duties of refugees in Africa, was adopted to address, as the name suggests, the specific aspects of refugee problems in Africa which were not addressed by the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights has put in place various measures to promote and protect the rights of refugees in Africa. These measures include the organisation of seminars, seminar paper presentations by commissioners, the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, and adopting resolutions on the rights of refugees. The African Commission has also allied itself with various international human rights and humanitarian law organisations to protect the rights of refugees in Africa. It has protected the rights of refugees through its visits to different countries and through its decisions on individual communications. This article observes, inter alia, that, although the African Commission has entertained various communications dealing with the rights of refugees in Africa, the arguments of the parties to those communications as well as the decisions of the Commission have largely focused on the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and not on the 1969 OAU Convention on Refugees. The author recommends that, in matters relating to refugee' rights, the African Commission should always invoke the provisions of the 1969 OAU Refugee Convention in addition to the African Charter and, where need be, reference should be made to other refugee-related instruments.