Africa Discrimination and Citizenship Audit Report

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On February 16-17, 2005, the Open Society Justice Initiative convened a consultative forum entitled The Africa Discrimination & Citizenship Audit: Emerging Issues and the Way Forward at the Parktonian Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa. The meeting was part of the Africa Discrimination & Citizenship Audit, a joint collaboration of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, the Open Society Kenya Initiative, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, the Open Society Foundation for South Africa, and local partners.

The Africa Discrimination and Citizenship Audit will map ethnic, racial, and citizenship-based discrimination in a number of African countries and will look closely at the intersections of these kinds of discrimination, gender discrimination, and access to citizenship. The audit is a response to the trend among some African governments to use group membership as a basis for political and economic marginalization. It is designed to provide a means to address restrictive citizenship policies that are either prima facie discriminatory or require individuals to meet effectively impossible conditions in order to prove their citizenship. In some countries these policies have resulted in mass denationalization and statelessness.

The audit involves the documentation of legislation, judgments, and policies—in sum, the state of the law in each country—relevant to ethnic discrimination, intra-national discrimination, citizenship-based discrimination, gender-based discrimination in access to citizenship, and ethnic discrimination in access to citizenship.

The meeting brought together partners and other actors to examine the development of the project and to explore future programming. The discussions interrogated the use of external definitions and the narrowness of a state of the law survey, examined the tools used to enforce discrimination, and identified vulnerable groups and protections under international law.