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Widow’s right to inheritance case: IHRDA, APDF sue Mali before ECOWAS Court

By December 9, 2019October 7th, 2021No Comments

Banjul, 9 December 2019: The “Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa” (IHRDA) and “Association pour le Progrès et le Défense des Droits des Femmes au Mali” (APDF), on 28 November 2019, filed a lawsuit against Mali before the ECOWAS Court of Justice, on behalf of a Malian widow (Kadiatou), whose right to inherit her husband’s property is being violated by her in-laws.

Kadiatou’s husband died in 2013, and following her refusal to marry her husband’s brother, her family-in-law beat her up, chased her from her home with their 3 children (minors), and confiscated her late husband’s property. Though her complaint to the police was not investigated, a case was filed before a local court, where it has been pending since June 2016.

The plaintiffs allege that Mali is in violation of several of the widow’s rights, notably the right to equal protection before the law, the right to dignity, and the right for her cause to be heard within reasonable time. They also allege Mali’s failure to protect the family, as well as the best interest and the right to development of Kadiatou’s children. These are rights and obligations enshrined in several international treaties to which Mali is a party, notably the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women

The plaintiffs request the Court to declare Mali guilty of the above violations, and to order Mali to help Kadiatou to recover her lost property (including 5 houses and a piece of land with their title deeds, bank accounts and vehicles) together with the equivalent of rents collected from the above landed property over the years. They also request the Court to order Mali to pay the victims reparation worth 50,000,000 FCFA (about 85,000 USD) for moral damages suffered, and to prosecute and punish the perpetrators of the offences committed against Kadiatou.


6 June 2021: Case adjourned for decision to 22 June 2021.

23 June 2021: Court passed judgement, declaring Mali in violation of the right of Kadiatou and her children to dignity, and the right for her case be heard within a reasonable time. Court also finds that Mali failed in its duty to protect the victim and her family, as well as the best interest and the right to development of her children. Court orders Mali to try the case brought by the victim before the local courts within a reasonable time, to liquidate the estate left by her late husband according to the law, and to pay her compensation worth 100,000,000 FCFA (about US$ 181,000) for damages.