To increase the accessibility of human rights charters by translating them into African languages.
The project began in 2006, at the annual meeting of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Banjul, The Gambia. At this time, the African Commission’s documents were only available in the languages of the Africa’s former colonizers. Leigh Swigart, of Brandeis University and John Hutchison of the African Language Materials Archive Project attended that meeting and had the opportunity of discussing this situation with members of the Commission. The result was Know Your Rights!: a project to translate the 5 charters and documents of the African Commission into African languages in order to make them accessible to all Africans.
Those involved prepared to write grant applications and discussed the idea of starting a pilot translation project in Senegal. By the summer of 2007, they had organized a workshop in Dakar to plan for how it might evolve in the future.
In April 2008, there was a follow-up meeting at Brandeis University, during a visit there by Prof. Fatou Kiné Camara, of the Faculty of Political and Legal Sciences of Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar. The purpose of the meeting was to plan a series of small pilot conferences that would advance the goals of the project and gain experience relevant to the search for funding for a larger project. Attendees included: Prof. Camara, Jennifer Yanco of WARA, Leigh Swigart, and John Hutchison.
The committee agreed to sponsor two pilot projects during the month of May, several days apart, in Senegal. The pilots entailed organizing conference-debates in national languages, focusing on articles from the Protocol of the African Union Charter of human and peoples’ rights on the rights of women.
The project is now being shepharded by Brandeis University, WARA/WARC, ALMA, and by Prof. Fatou Kiné Camara. Prof. Camara has:
- incorporated her law students into the project
- integrated partners from community radio stations in Senegal
- integrated partners from women’s groups in Senegal
- organized the two pilot workshops with community groups in Senegal
At the 2007 meeting in Banjul, The Gambia, the OAU’s African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) asked the personnel representing WARA’s ALMA Project there, to begin taking on the important responsibility for translating the various human and peoples’ rights documents of the ACHPR into African languages. Thus the “Know Your Rights!” Project was born. Since that time, ALMA has initiated this process with the translation of a few of the documents into two languages of Burkina Faso: Moore and Fulfulde. These translations were done by two members of the ALMA Advisory Board Henriette Ouedraogo Ilboudo for Moore, and Issa Diallo for Fulfulde.
Since then, the ALMA Project Coordinator, John Hutchison has continued to collaborate with Geneviève Rose and the ACHPR committee she is on, The International work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA). ALMA has facilitated for them the translation of a summary document entitled “Indigenous Peoples in Africa: The Forgotten Peoples?” [The African Commission’s work on indigenous peoples in Africa]. Thus far this collaboration has led to the translation of this document into Fulfulde, Tamajaq, Kirundi and Maa. With ACHPR’s permission and given the importance of making this material available to the concerned constituencies, ALMA is posting these translations on its “Know Your Rights!” page.
- Professor Fatou Kiné Camara publishes an on-line paper, “The Know Your Rights! Project: Putting Community Service and Outreach in the Heart of the Law School and in the Hearts of its Graduates”
- KYR inspires a film by Mariama Khan – Sutura: What Judges Need to Know about Rape and Justice in Senegal
- Mariama Khan receives a Prix d’Encouragement for her film “Sutura.”
- Know Your Rights workshop explores the role of multiple partners in providing information about human rights through the medium of African languages
Links to documents of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights:
These five documents are the legal instruments that constitute the basis of the KYR Project (click on each to learn more):
- African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights
- African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
- Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples Rights
- Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa
- OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa