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African Union Establishes Human Rights Court - 2004-01-25

An African human rights court is established after being ratified by 15 African Union countries.

When it begins functioning later this year, the African Court on Human and People's Rights will hear cases brought by AU member states, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and private individuals.

The court will not open until after its host country and judges are determined during the African Union's general assembly in July. It will have jurisdiction over only the AU member states that ratified it.

Comoros last month became the 15th state to approve an AU protocol establishing the court. The others are Algeria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Libya, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritania, Rwanda, South Africa, Senegal, Togo and Uganda.

The African Union says the court will enhance its commitment to human rights and the fundamental values of tolerance, solidarity, gender equality and humanitarian action on the continent.

An umbrella human rights organization, the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, has welcomed the court's establishment as a major victory for the human rights cause in Africa. It has urged the other 38 AU member states to ratify it.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.