The Citizenship Rights in Africa Initiative (CRAI)
The Citizenship Rights in Africa Initiative (CRAI) is a coalition of African NGOs that are working, individually and collectively, to promote the right of all people on the continent to effective recognition of a nationality. Over the last year, the most striking development was the decision by the African Union’s Executive Council at the AU Summit in July 2016 to support the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) to draft a new protocol on nationality rights. This provides an opportunity for regional civil society to collaborate with the ACHPR to ensure adoption of a strong protocol that will strengthen existing international norms and protections regarding statelessness and adapt them to some of the most prevalent regional dynamics in Africa.
To support the ACHPR in this, the coalition organized a number of events at its 59th Ordinary Session in October. A panel discussion highlighted the need to address the right to a nationality as a vital factor affecting human dignity. Speakers described difficulties faced by persons who are stateless or whose nationality is not recognized, such inability to get ID, denial of the right to free movement, educational and work opportunities. These difficulties were humanised in reflections on the life of a colleague Adam Hussein Adam, a Kenyan activist who and victim of contested nationality who went on not only to resolve his own situation, but to become a champion of the cause. A photo exhibition entitled ‘Out of the Shadows’ was also launched.
At the national level, the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) campaigned the on behalf of the Makonde people. The Makonde migrated to Kenya in the 1940s from present day Mozambique. At independence, they were not recognized as citizens and have been left effectively stateless ever since. In October 2016, the KHRC supported the Makonde to march to Nairobi. There they were received by the president, who promised to address their situation by the end of the year.
In Southern Africa, under the leadership of Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), NGOs from across Southern Africa met in July and agreed to work together to fight statelessness. In August, LHR addressed the Civil Society Forum of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) convincing the forum to include issue of statelessness in their action plan and to engage governments in the region to support the fight against statelessness.