AFRICAN UNION

UNION AFRICAINE

UNIÃO AFRICANA
African Commission on Human & Peoples’ Rights
Kairaba Avenue, P. O. Box 673, Banjul, The Gambia

Commission Africaine des Droits de l’Homme & des Peuples

Tel: (220) 392 962; Fax: (220) 390 764

E-mail: achpr@achpr.org; Website: http://www.achpr.org

PRINCIPLES AND GUIDELINES ON THE RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL
AND LEGAL ASSISTANCE IN AFRICA
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights;
Recalling its mandate under Article 45(c) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
(the Charter) “to formulate and lay down principles and rules aimed at solving legal problems
relating to human and peoples’ rights and fundamental freedoms upon which African states may
base their legislation”;
Recalling Articles 5, 6, 7 and 26 of the Charter, which contain provisions relevant to the right to a
fair trial;
Recognising that it is necessary to formulate and lay down principles and rules to further strengthen
and supplement the provisions relating to fair trial in the Charter and to reflect international
standards;
Recalling the resolution on the Right to Recourse and Fair Trial adopted at its 11th ordinary session
in March 1992, the resolution on the Respect and the Strengthening of the Independence of the
Judiciary adopted at its 19th ordinary session in March 1996 and the resolution Urging States to
Envisage a Moratorium on the Death Penalty adopted at its 26th ordinary session in November
1999;
Recalling also the resolution on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance, adopted at its 26th
session held in November 1999, in which it decided to prepare general principles and guidelines
on the right to a fair trial and legal assistance under the African Charter;
Solemnly proclaims these Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal
Assistance in Africa and urges that every effort is made so that they become generally known to
everyone in Africa; are promoted and protected by civil society organisations, judges, lawyers,
prosecutors, academics and their professional associations; are incorporated into their domestic
legislation by State parties to the Charter and respected by them:
A. GENERAL PRINCIPLES APPLICABLE TO ALL LEGAL PROCEEDINGS:
1) Fair and Public Hearing
In the determination of any criminal charge against a person, or of a person’s rights and
obligations, everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a legally constituted
competent, independent and impartial judicial body.

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