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Fodi slavery case against Niger before ECOWAS Court

By September 5, 2019 September 10th, 2019 No Comments

Banjul, 22 June 2019: The “Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa” (IHRDA), on 21 June 2019, filed a lawsuit against the Republic of Niger before the ECOWAS Court of Justice, on behalf of a Nigerien woman (Fodi) and her children, who had been held in slavery by the Takaboune Idiabaz Family since childhood.

After serving Idiabaz for some time, in 1976, Fodi, was presented as a wedding gift to Idiabaz’s daughter (Tajira) in Burkina Faso. She was also given into different marriages during her service as slave, which resulted in her giving birth to several children, who were also given into slavery.

In 2018 Fodi’s uncle and her brother helped her to return to her country. Once in Niger, Fodi learned that one of her daughters (Zainabu) had been offered as a gift to Tajiras’ daughter. A lawsuit was filed, on behalf of the daughter, before the local courts in Niger requesting for her freedom. This request was trivialized by the prosecutor and treated as a misdeamnor. In addition to this, no reparations were considered for the victims. It is in this context that we took the case to the ECOWAS court.

The plaintiffs allege that Niger is in violation of Fodi and her children’s right to freedom from slavery and discrimination, right to fair trial and remedy, and right to dignity, as well as the principle of the best interest of the child. This is in contravention of several international treaties to which Niger is a party, notably the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

The plaintiffs request the court to declare Niger guilty of the above violations, and to order Niger to pay the victims reparation worth 350,000,000 FCFA (about 590,000 USD) for physical, moral and psychological damages suffered for more than 30 years of captivity.

It should be noted that, in 2003, Niger adopted a law criminalizing slavery.