IHRDA, MDT obtain favourable judgment against Guinea for case of wrongful death in State custody

 

Banjul, 24 April 2018: The Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (the ECOWAS Court) 23 April 2018 handed-down its judgment in favour of the complainants in suit no ECW/CCJ/APP/34/16 Bintou Cissé (represented by IHRDA and MDT) v Guinea.

The case was filed before the ECOWAS Court in September 2016 by the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) and Guinean partner “Mêmes Droits pour Tous” (MDT), on behalf of Bintou Cissé representing the victim’s family. The case concerns the torture and death of a Liberian refugee (Jallah Morris) while in the custody of Guinean police; it alleged the State’s failure to investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators of the violations.

In its verdict pronounced during an External Court Session taking place at the Supreme Court of Mali, the ECOWAS 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 (Forty-five million FCFA – equivalent to about USD 84,000) to the family of Jallah Morris, and to prosecute those responsible for his death.

Jallah Morris, a family bread-winner, was tortured to death in 2011 while in custody of Guinean Brigade Officers. Guinean authorities had suspected homicide, but failed to authorize autopsy to be performed on his mortal remains; neither did they take adequate measures to investigate the incident and prosecute the officers involved.

The complainants in this case had alleged a number of violations, notably the victim’s right to freedom from torture and right to life. The complainants also argued that the Government of Guinea had 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.

This decision is a major step towards ensuring justice for the victim, and curbing impunity and the prevalence of torture perpetrated by the police in Guinea.

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