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Conceivable Action: Communications

Communications may either be submitted

  • by another State party (Articles 48-49); or
  • by individuals and NGOs with an observer status (Article 55 speaks without any further precision of “Communications other than those of State Parties …”).

If the complaint is not directed against a State party to the Charter, it will not be registered.

Furthermore, communications are subject to certain conditions of admissibility. They have to:

  • indicate the identity of the author even if the latter requests anonymity;
  • be compatible with the Charter of the Organisation of African Unity or with the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights;
  • not be written in disparaging or insulting language directed against the State concerned and its institutions or against the African Union;
  • not be based exclusively on news disseminated through the mass media;
  • be sent after exhausting local remedies, if any, unless it is obvious that such a procedure is unduly prolonged;
  • be submitted within a reasonable period from the time local remedies are exhausted;
  • not deal with cases which have been already settled in accordance with the principles of the Organisation of African Unity or the provisions of the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Communications can be sent here:

The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights
No 31 Bijilo Annex Layout
Kombo North District
Western Region
P.O. Box 673
The Gambia
Fax: +220 441 05 04
E-mail: achpr(at)


Once a communication is recognized as admissible, the Commission provides the parties the facilities to settle the conflict amicably. If a friendly settlement is reached, a report containing the terms of the agreement is presented to the Commission at its session. This automatically brings consideration of the case to an end.

If no settlement is reached, the Commission examines the communication in detail. Some states send representatives to the sessions of the Commission to confute the accusations brought against them. NGOs and individuals can also appear before the Commission.

After the attentive analysis of the facts and arguments of the two parties, the Commission can decide about the existence of a violation of the dispositions of the Charter. If it states a violation, it recommends some measures to the State concerned.

Follow-up on the recommendations

In order to supervise the compliance of the State, for whom a violation of the Charter has been stated, with these recommendations, the Secretariat of the Commission sends reminders. In these reminders, the Commission demands to upkeep the engagement the State has entered through Article 1 of the Charter. Still, letters of reminder are no means of legal enforcement and, formally, the ACPHR has thus no official procedures to supervise implementation and to compel States to abide by these recommendations. Under the current conditions, follow-up depends on the good-will of the States concerned.

However, recommendations are included in the Commissioner's Annual Activity Reports which are submitted to the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government in conformity with Article 54 of the Charter. If they are adopted, they become legally binding on the States parties and are published.


The ACHPR is currently the main monitoring body in the field of human rights on the African continent. States have been increasingly willing to engage with its work. Still, it is only a quasi-judicial body. Its final recommendations are not by themselves legally binding on the states concerned and there is no official enforcement.

Description on the website of the Commission:


Concrete Cases

The Commission has issued a number of declarations and principles on various human rights issues. By nature, every recommendation of the Commission concerns only African affairs.

The decisions are accessible here:

Last change: 12.01.10 - 15:04