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African court to address human rights

LONDON, March 23 (UPI) -- A new court in Africa will target the widespread abuse of human rights and could mark a shift away from impunity, a report from the Chatham House said.

The London-based non-profit, non-governmental think tank released a new report discussing the potential role a new pan-African human rights court could play in the face of ongoing human rights abuses taking place in many African countries, Chatham House reported.

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The report, titled, "Africa's New Human Rights Court: Whistling in the Wind?" addresses the African Union's announced plans to add a human rights section to a new court it is establishing called the African Court of Justice and Human Rights. While the new court is not yet open, another pan-African human rights court recently opened in Arusha, Tanzania, called the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights.

Report author Sonya Sceats, a Chatham House associate fellow for international law, addresses questions about the ability of human rights abuse victims to bring cases to the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights and the future AU court. The report also addresses whether the court will be able to try African heads of state and the likelihood of African governments to comply with the court's judgments.

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The report suggests the African Union has begun a shift toward emphasizing the protection of human rights and that despite significant challenges, the court could play a "leading role in the development of international discourse about the protection of economic, social and cultural rights and the collective rights of peoples," Sceats writes in the report.

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