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African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights knew as Banjul Chart was adopted on June 27, 1981, and entered into force on October 1986, so far w49 states of the 50 members of the organization of African unity now (AG) and ratified or acceded to it. It guarantees a number of political and civil rights without qualifications.

The rights to equality before the law, human dignity and inviolability and right to asylum.


It prohibits all forms of degrading punishment. It guarantees the right to a fair hearing of which the important elements are the right to be heard, to appeal, defence by counsel of one’s own choice, the trial within a reasonable time by an impartial court or tribunal and the presumption of innocence.

It prohibits retroactive criminal legislation and requires that only an offender may be punished.

It lays greater emphasis on the duties of the individual. A special feature of the African charter is that along with rights, it also lays down the duties of the individuals.

Through the preamble, the state parties being the member of the OAU now (AU) recognize on one hand, that fundamental human rights stem from the attributes of human beings, which justifies their international protection and on the other hand that the reality and respect of people ’s right should necessarily guarantee human rights.


These include the right to life, liberty, liberty, and freedom of conscience, expression, association, assembly and movement and the right to receive and impart information. These may be derogated from by law but the standard required of such laws in a democratic for example, laws necessary in democratic society. The right to form trade unions is not expressly stated but is incorporated in the freedom of association.

Every citizen is guaranteed the right to participate in government directly or through freely chosen representatives in accordance with the provision of law, individuals have “equal access to the public services and to public property and services.

The charter also protects the right of an economic, social or cultural nature. It guarantees the right to work without any qualifications which can hardly be attained having regard to the economic situation in most West African states.  It guarantees equal pay for work, the right to good health and to education without stating the levels

The character also protects the independence of the judiciary and prohibits the expulsion of aliens. It provides for a number of group rights the right to self determination, the right of a people to dispose of their national wealth and resources and lawful recovery or compensation in the event of spoliation, the right to national and international peace and security and equal enjoyment of the common heritage of mankind “Nothing shall justify the domination of a people by another”.

It also provides that every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind, such as race-ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion national and social origin, fortune, birth or another status

  1. Right to inform (Article 9)
  2. Right to enjoy states of physical and mental health (Article 16)
  3. Family to be natural unit and the basis of society and shall be protected by the state  (Article18)
  4. Right to freely dispose of wealth and natural resources (Article 21)
  5. Right to development (Article 22. Para 2)
  6. Right to national and international peace and security (Article 23)
  7. Right to a general satisfactory environment favourable to their development. (Article 24)


It imposes a number of duties on individuals; Emphasizing the duties, the preamble states that the enjoyment of rights and freedoms also implies the performance of duties on the part of everyone.

The preamble also emphasizes the right to development and those civil and political rights cannot be dissociated from economic, social and cultural rights in their conception as well as university and that the satisfaction of economic social and cultural rights is a guarantee for the enjoyment of civil and political rights.

The duties are duties to the family preserve its harmonious development and cohesion, respect parents and maintains them in case of need; duties to the state serve the state, preserve its independence, integrity, security, and solidarity and pay taxes; duties to the international community. There is a duty to preserve positive African unity.

The charter sets up an eleven-member commission with the duty to protect and promise human rights through its interpretation of the charter, documentation, studies, seminars symposia and conference, it also disseminates information and encourages local and national institutions concerned with human rights.

It formulates principles and policies on which African governments can base their legislation affecting human rights.

It is empowered to receive complaints from state members and from non-state members and organizations on breaches of the charter after local remedies had been exhausted.

The commission when necessary gives its views and recommendations to the governments concerned and brings serious breaches to the attention of the Assembly of African Heads of State to which it also renders.

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