Enforced Disappearance Legal Database

African Human Rights System


African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Entry into Force: 21 October, 1986
Ratification Status: 54

Relevant provisions:

Article 4 – Right to Life

Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right.

Article 5 – Prohibition of Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment

Every individual shall have the right to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being and to the recognition of his legal status. All forms of exploitation and degradation of man particularly slavery, slave trade, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment shall be prohibited.

Article 6 – Right to Personal Liberty and Protection from Arbitrary Arrest

Every individual shall have the right to liberty and to the security of his person. No one may be deprived of his freedom except for reasons and conditions previously laid down by law. In particular, no one may be arbitrarily arrested or detained.

Article 7 – Right to a Fair Trial

1. Every individual shall have the right to have his cause heard. This comprises:

  • (a) the right to an appeal to competent national organs against acts of violating his fundamental rights as recognized and guaranteed by conventions, laws, regulations and customs in force;
  • (b) the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty by a competent court or tribunal;
  • (c) the right to defense, including the right to be defended by counsel of his choice;
  • (d) the right to be tried within a reasonable time by an impartial court or tribunal.

2. No one may be condemned for an act or omission which did not constitute a legally punishable offence at the time it was committed. No penalty may be inflicted for an offence for which no provision was made at the time it was committed. Punishment is personal and can be imposed only on the offender.

Article 18 – Protection of the Family and Vulnerable Groups

1. The family shall be the natural unit and basis of society. It shall be protected by the State which shall take care of its physical health and moral.

2. The State shall have the duty to assist the family which is the custodian or morals and traditional values recognized by the community.

3. The State shall ensure the elimination of every discrimination against women and also ensure the protection of the rights of the woman and the child as stipulated in international declarations and conventions.

4. The aged and the disabled shall also have the right to special measures of protection in keeping with their physical or moral needs.

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Entry into Force: 29 November, 1999
Ratification Status: 41

Relevant provisions:

Article 16 – Protection against Child Abuse and Torture

1. State Parties to the present Charter shall take specific legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and especially physical or mental injury or abuse, neglect or maltreatment including sexual abuse, while in the care of the child.

2. Protective measures under this Article shall include effective procedures for the establishment of special monitoring units to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting referral investigation, treatment, and follow-up of instances of child abuse and neglect.

Article 18 – Protection of the Family

1. The family shall be the natural unit and basis of society. It shall enjoy the protection and support of the State for its establishment and development.

2. State Parties to the present Charter shall take appropriate steps to ensure equality of rights and responsibilities of spouses with regard to children during marriage and in the event of its dissolution. In case of the dissolution, provision shall be made for the necessary protection of the child.

3. No child shall be deprived of maintenance by reference to the parents’ marital status.

Article 22 – Armed Conflicts

1. State Parties to this Charter shall undertake to respect and ensure respect for rules of international humanitarian law applicable in armed conflicts which affect the child.

2. State Parties to the present Charter shall take all necessary measures to ensure that no child shall take a direct part in hostilities and refrain in particular, from recruiting any child.

3. State Parties to the present Charter shall, in accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law, protect the civilian population in armed conflicts and shall take all feasible measures to ensure the protection and care of children who are affected by armed conflicts. Such rules shall also apply to children in situations of internal armed conflicts, tension and strife.

Article 29 – Sale, Trafficking and Abduction

State Parties to the present Charter shall take appropriate measures to prevent:

  • 1. the abduction, sale of, or traffic in children for any purpose or in any form, by any person including parents or legal guardians of the child;
  • 2. the use of children in all forms of begging.

Soft law 

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights

African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child


Enforcement Mechanisms 


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