On April 13, 2013, the Open Society Justice Initiative, alongside eleven human rights groups primarily based in Africa, delivered a joint letter to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on human rights and terrorism. The letter was delivered at the commission’s 53rd Ordinary Session in Banjul, Gambia.
The letter recommended six measures the commission could take to better ensure states fully comply with their human rights obligations during counterterrorism operations. One of those recommendations was for the commission to development draft guidelines and principles on the protection of human rights in the fight against terrorism in Africa. The letter noted that while the African Union has established a robust anti-terrorism regime, there is no equally robust human rights framework.
The letter, signed by groups from Eastern, Western, and Southern Africa, focused on human rights concerns linked to renditions, anti-terrorism legislation, international counterterrorism cooperation arrangements, the use of “drones,” restrictions on access to information, and private security and military contractors. The letter gave particular attention to the responsibilities states owe victims of both terrorism and counterterrorism abuses.
Open Society Justice Initiative staff also delivered, on April 10, 2013, an abridged version of the letter in an oral statement at the session. This statement is also available for download.