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Case of death of refugee in custody, before the ECOWAS Court against Guinea

By September 23, 2016 September 10th, 2019 No Comments

Banjul, 23 September 2016

Thursday, 22 September 2016, the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) and the Guinea-based non-governmental organization Les Mêmes Droits pour Tous (MDT) filed another suit against the Republic of Guinea before the Court of Justice for the Economic Community of West African States (the ECOWAS Court).

The suit relates to the death of a Liberian refugee in 2011 while in custody of Guinean Brigade Officers.

The victim (a family bread-winner) was alleged to have been brutally beaten, killed and dumped into water by four (4) Guinean Brigade Officers. Eye-witnesses attested to this allegation. Guinean authorities also suspected homicide, but failed to authorize autopsy to be performed, and rather allowed the family to bury the remains. Local authorities, together with the 4 accused officers each gave incoherent/contradicting versions of the story, skewed towards vindicating the accused officers. Though the Brigade authorities booked the accused officers for interrogation, the latter did not bother to show up for summons from the State Prosecutor in April 2015; and since then, the Brigade authorities have done nothing to compel them to go for interrogations.

The complainants in this case allege a number of violations, notably the victim’s right to freedom from torture and right to life. The complainants also argue that the Government of Guinea has failed in its obligation to prevent torture, to carry-out effective investigation on the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice, and to provide reparation to the victim’s family.

On the basis of the foregoing, the complainants are requesting the ECOWAS Court to, among others:

  • Declare that the Republic of Guinea has violated the rights evoked in this case;
  • Pass an injunction for the Republic of Guinea to carry-out immediate and effective investigation of the violations and bring the perpetrators to justice;
  • Pass an injunction urging the Republic of Guinea to take specific measures to compensate the victim’s family for the damages and prejudice suffered;
  • Pass an injunction urging the Republic of Guinea to promulgate specific laws that prohibit/punish torture in accordance with its international obligations, and put in place other legislative, administrative and educative measures that can contribute to prevent torture and violence in custody.

It is worth noting that torture perpetrated by State agents in Guinea is endemic; nevertheless, the government has not taken sufficient measures to prevent the practice or punish the perpetrators, thereby perpetuating a climate of impunity.

Guinea has ratified the major African Union and United Nations instruments that prohibit the violations alleged in this case, notably the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Updates

12 February 2018

Case heard and adjourned for judgment on 24 May 2018.

23 April 2018

Court passed judgment in favour of complainants during an External Court Session at the Supreme Court of Mali. The Court found the State of Guinea in violation of the right to life and the right to fair trial. The Court ordered the State of Guinea to pay reparation amounting to 45,000,000 FCFA (about USD 84,000) to the family of the victim, and to prosecute those responsible for his death.