What counts as a ‘reasonable period’? an analytical survey of the jurisprudence of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights on reasonable time for filing applications
Keywords:African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, admissibility, article 56(6), African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, reasonable period, filing applications
Applications filed before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Court) must fulfil all the admissibility requirements listed in article 56 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Charter). The requirements in article 56 are all replicated in Rule 50(2) of the Rules of Court (Rules). One of these requirements is that applications must be filed within a reasonable period from the time local remedies have been exhausted or from the date set by the Court. The Court’s jurisprudence confirms that it takes a case-by-case approach in assessing the admissibility of cases while paying attention to the individual facts of each case. Notably, the Court, similar to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Commission), has refused to set a fixed time limit that can universally be accepted as reasonable for purposes of article 56(6). This article conducts an analytical survey of the Court’s article 56(6) jurisprudence. The analysis reveals that while the Court has, at least conceptually, been clear about its general approach for applying article 56(6), its decisions demonstrate an ambivalence about the factors that are considered for determining the reasonableness of time as well as the baseline for computing time.