State Parties have automatic access to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, based in Arusha, Tanzania. In stark contrast, individuals and NGOs (i.e. those most likely to bring cases alleging human rights violations), can only initiate proceedings if the respondent State has entered a special declaration accepting the Court’s competence to receive such cases. Predictably, in a continent rife with human rights violations, only a few African States have accepted the Court’s jurisdiction to hear such (individual or NGO) petitions since its formal creation in June 1998. After years without hearing any cases, the Court finally received a complaint brought by an individual. This gave it the opportunity to render its first judgment in the matter of Michelot Yogogombaye v. The Republic of Senegal on December 15, 2009. Though it ultimately dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction, the Judgment is significant for various reasons. This case note examines those reasons. It analyzes how the Court treated Yogogombaye’s application in an attempt to open the jurisdictional door to receive individual complaints a little wider. It also assesses the implications of invoking the doctrine of forum prorogatum, which is established in the International Court of Justice, as discussed by the important separate opinion of Judge Fatsah Ouguerguez. It is submitted that the Court’s present jurisdictional scheme defeats the purpose of having a regional human rights tribunal to adjudicate and enforce human rights norms in Africa.
Charles Chernor Jalloh,
International Decision, African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Michelot Yogogombaye v. Republic of Senegal
, 104 Am. J. Int'l L. 620
Available at: http://ecollections.law.fiu.edu/faculty_publications/246