The ECOWAS Court today, 12 Octobre 2017, delivered its judgment in the case between Dorothy Njemanze and 3 others v The Federal Republic of Nigeria. The case centered on the violent, cruel, inhuman, degrading and discriminatory treatment the Plaintiffs suffered at the hands of law enforcement agents in Abuja Nigeria.
The women by name, Dorothy Njemanze, Edu Ene Okoro, Justina Etim and Amarachi Jessyforth were abducted and assaulted sexually, physicaly, verbally and unlawfully detained at different times between Janaury 2011 and March 2013 in the hands of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) and other government agencies, such as the police and the military. They were arrested and accused of being prostitutes simply on the grounds that they were found on the streets at night.
In its judgment, the Court held that the arrest of the Plaintiffs was unlawful and violated the right to freedom of liberty, as the Defendant State had submitted no proof that these women were indeed prostitutes. The Court also found that branding the women prostitutes constituted verbal abuse, which violated the right of these women to dignity. Plus loin, the Court held that the arrest violated the right of these women to be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; and also constituted gender-based discrimination.
The Court found that there were multiple violations of articles 1, 2, 3 et 18 (3) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; articles 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 et 25 of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol); articles 2, 3, 5 (une) et 15(1) of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); articles 2(1), 3, 7 et 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); articles 10, 12, 13 et 16 of the Convention against Torture (CAT); and articles 1, 2, 5, 7 et 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
Le 1st, 3è et 4e Plaintiffs were each awarded damages in the sum of Six Million Naira. Cependant, the claim of the 2Dakota du Nord Plaintiff was dismissed for being statute barred under the Protocol creating the Court.
It must be noted that this is the first time an international court has pronounced on violations of the Maputo Protocol.
The case was filed 17 Septembre 2014 and was a joint action between Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA), Alliances pour l'Afrique, Nigerian Women Trust Fund and the law firm of SPA Ajibade, with support from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
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