What is a communication?
The ACERWC is the only treaty body dealing with the rights of the child that has a complaints procedure and has only so far received two communications, of which one has been finalised. Further, the ACERWC is the only treaty body in Africa that defines a communication, stating: ‘Under Article 44 of the African Charter of the Rights and Welfare of the Child, any correspondence or any complaint from a State, individual or NGO denouncing acts that are prejudicial to the right or rights of the child shall be considered as communication.’
It is important to set out one’s case logically detailing the following elements:
- The facts giving rise to the violations alleged;
- The specific rights in the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) that have been violated;
- Arguments for admissibility of the communication;
- Arguments on the merits, detailing why the State Party should be held responsible for the violation of the child(ren)’s rights; and
- The remedies sought.
Who can bring a communication?
- A victim of a violation of the rights enshrined in the ACRWC.
- An author acting on behalf of a victim.
- An author acting on behalf of eligible parties.
- An author acting on behalf of a victim without the victim’s consent, provided the author is able to prove that he, she or it is acting in the supreme interest of the child.
- A State that is not a party to the ACRWC. A communication from such a State should be in the best interest of the child. In considering such a communication, the ACRWC would collaborate with other treaty-implementing mechanisms which the ACRWC non-State party has ratified.
Conditions as to the form of a communication
- The communication must not be anonymous.
- The communication must be written.
- The communication must be against a State party to the ACRWC.
Conditions as to the content of a communication
The Guidelines set out six conditions for the content of a communication as the requirements for admissibility. These are that:
- The communication must be compatible with the provisions of the Constitutive Act of the AU or with the ACRWC;
- The communication must not be based on information gathered solely from the media;
- The communication has not been considered by another investigation procedure or international regulation;
- The author of the communication has exhausted all the available channels of appeal at the national level or is not satisfied with the solution that has been provided;
- The communication is presented within a reasonable time after exhausting all the channels of appeal at the national level; and
- The wording of the communication is not offensive.
What are the steps that a communication goes through before the ACERWC?
Having filed a communication, the ACERWC takes it through three principal steps which are stated below:
- Consideration of admissibility;
- Consideration of merits;
- Implementation and monitoring of decisions.
The ACERWC has, by 2011, received two communications and has finalised its consideration on one of these.