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HRW Urges African Union to Pledge Support for African Commission on Human, Peoples’ Rights 

FILE - The logo of the African Union (AU) is seen at the entrance of AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 13, 2019.

Human Rights Watch has urged the African Union to pledge its support for the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which opens a session Monday, the last meeting of the year.

Human Rights Watch, in a statement Sunday, also called for the AU to “urgently tackle the deepening human rights and democratic crises affecting the continent, including in Ethiopia,” at the Commission’s 69th ordinary session.

“In Ethiopia, in the face of intensifying and a widening field of fighting, with attendant abuses and impact beyond the Tigray region,” HRW said, “it is especially important for the AU to demonstrate a commitment to enforcing member states’ obligations under its strong human rights standards and norms.”

Carine Kaneza Nantulya, HRW’s African advocacy director, said, “The growing gap between the AU political organs and African human rights institutions is threatening to undo decades of developments in African human rights law.”

HRW also noted that the AU failed to consistently apply two of its legal instruments — the AU Constitutive Act and the Charter of Democracy, Elections and Governance when dealing with Sudan and Chad.

“This year, the AU promptly suspended Sudan after the October 25 military coup but did not take similar action after the Chadian military takeover in late April,” the statement said. “The ACHPR condemned Chadian security forces for using excessive force against peaceful protesters demanding a return to civilian rule and called for prompt, credible investigations, and accountability.”

Nantulya said in the statement, “In a context of intensifying crises, with wide-ranging regional human rights and humanitarian repercussions, AU member states should stop choosing politics over human rights and instead rally behind African-led conflict prevention and investigation mechanisms.”