ACHPR Appoints New Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa

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Commissioner Jamesina Essie L. King, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa
Commissioner Jamesina Essie L. King, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)has appointed Commissioner Jamesina Essie L. King as the new Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, for an of two years period beginning from July 1, 2020.

Commissioner Essie King’s appointment was made at the ACHPR’s 66th Ordinary Session held virtually from July 13 to August 7, 2020 because the mandate of Mr. Lawrence Mute, a Member of the Commission and Special Rapporteur, came to an end on June 29, 2020, and in line with its mandate of promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa, pursuant to Article 45 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter).

In the exercise of its mandate, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission) has established various mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa and the right to freedom of expression and access to information is one of the fundamental human rights guaranteed by Article 9 of the African Charter.

The African Commission is committed to promoting the right to freedom of expression and access to information, and monitoring the implementation of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa by the States Parties.

The African Commission has also adopted the Model Law on Access to Information in Africa to encourage the adoption of national legislation on access to information in line with the regional and international standards.

The African Commission has also adopted the Guidelines on Access to Information and Elections in Africain light of the importance of the right of access to information to the creation of a conducive environment for free, fair and transparent elections, and elaborate on the information which should be proactively disclosed by all relevant actors during elections.

In her appointment, the Commission also recalled Resolution ACHPR/Res.71(XXXVI)04 which established the special mechanism on freedom of expression in Africa; Resolution ACHPR/Res.122 (XXXXII) 07 which expanded the mandate to include access to information in Africa, in addition to Resolution ACHPR/Res.84 (XXXXV)05, Resolution ACHPR/Res161(XLVI)09, Resolution ACHPR/Res.199(L)11, Resolution ACHPR/Res.247 (LIV) 2013 and Resolution ACHPR/Res.320 (LVII) 2015 which renewed the mandate.

MsJamesina Essie Leonora King is a Sierra Leonean jurist and a Commissioner of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. She is also currently the Country Rapporteur for Eritrea, Namibia, Somalia, The Gambia, and Zimbabwe. She is the first Sierra Leonean to be sworn in as a Commissioner of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights; the first Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone; and was a Commissioner in the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone from 1996 to 2016.