The African Commission on Human and People's Rights says inadequate support of its activities by the organs of the African Union and interference in its work by states are major obstacles to building a credible institution that would defend the right of citizens.
Mr. Musa Bitaye, Chairperson of the Working Group on Indigenous Communities of the Commission, said although human rights were a major agenda on the calendar of the AU, very little was being done by its main organs to support the work of the Commission.
"What is needed now is active participation of the organs of the AU to meaningfully support the work of the Commission," Mr Bitaye told a public lecture in Accra.
The lecture on the theme: "The work of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights," forms part of collaborative activities between the African Commission and Third World Network, a civil society group, in the promotion and protection of the rights of people and communities affected by mining activities.
Mr. Bitaye said much had been done in the past 20 years to make the Human Rights Charter workable but expressed regret that half the people on the continent on whose behalf the Commission was working did not even know of its existence.
Besides, "even those who know it approach the Commission with scepticism."
This, he said, explained the low number of complaints that the Commission had received since its formation.
Just 361 cases have been reported to the Commission in its 20-year history, that is, an average of about 18 complaints annually.
"For a continent replete with records of human rights abuses, the number of complaints is just too low," he said.
Mr Bitaye said the Commission was carrying out education activities among the people to create the necessary awareness and build necessary confidence.
He said lack of publicity had led to the general belief among the population that the Commission was not worth approaching in cases of human rights violations.
"As far as I can emphasise, the African rights system is as strong as any international one," he added.