Exhaustion of Local Remedies under ACHPR: Shall the Remedies under the House of the Federation be Exhausted

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Addis Ababa University


There is an internationally recognized principle of law known as rule of the exhaustion of local remedies which requires states to provide effective and sufficient remedies. Equivalently, there is also a globally recognized right to seek effective remedy from an independent, impartial, and competent tribunal. In the context of Africa, Art. 56 (5) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) provides that communications are admissible only if they are submitted after exhausting local remedies unless those remedies are unavailable, ineffective or inadequate. In the same vein, the African Commission established three requirementsavailability, sufficiency and effectiveness of remedy - to evaluate the nature of the local remedies for the purpose Art. 56 (5) of the ACHPR. In one of the cases brought against Ethiopia, EHRC v. Ethiopia, complainants contended that the two bodies that are mandated to interpret the constitution, HoF and CCI, are not independent, impartial, competent, and do not decide cases according to fundamental principles of law while Ethiopia argued strenuously to the opposite. The Commission ruled that HoF and CCI are independent, impartial, competent, and decide cases according to fundamental principles of law. The questions are: did complainants present sufficient information to the Commission that enables it to fully appreciate the nature of remedies under HoF and CCI, if any? Are there impediments to the remedy under HoF and CCI and, if so, what are they? The above listed questions demand scientific answers, which will be uncovered via mixed legal research. It is mixed because the scientific legal research in this inquiry involves both doctrinal and empirical elements of research approaches. As to the empirical approach, interview and case laws of HoF, ACHPR, ECrtHR, and IACHR are employed alongside with other doctrinal approach to get the actual practice of the HoF. Finally, the research’s finding is that exhaustion of local remedies from HoF is not mandatory for the purpose of Art.56 (5) of ACHPR.