Banjul, 12 February 2020: The “Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa”(IHRDA) and Gambian lawyer on 30 November 2019 filed a lawsuit against The Gambia before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, on behalf of three Gambians and the Kerr Mot Hali Community, concerning the violation of their right to property.
The three Gambians and their people are inhabitants of Kerr Mot Hali Village, where they were chased out of their homes and property by State security forces in 2009 on account of their religion, cultural and traditional practices. They settled in neighboring Senegal and made several efforts to return to their homes and properties in the Village, but intercepted by Gambia Police. Thus, their homes and properties were wrongfully taken over by people unknown to them. Due to the hostile political environment that prevailed at the time and the fact that the Applicants and their people were forced to emigrate from their village by State’s security agents, they could not seek redress before judicial mechanisms in The Gambia. However, with the ousting of former President Yahya Jammeh, the Applicants and their people returned to The Gambia and instituted a civil suit in March 2017 at the High Court against Government, claiming their ownership of the community land. Though the High Court decided in favour of the Applicants in October 2017, The Gambia has taken no measure to enforce the judgment. Thus, the Applicants are still unable to return to their homes and properties in the said village, as the unlawful occupants are still there.
The plaintiffs allege that The Gambia is in violation of their right to property, their right for their cause to be heard, as well the duty of the State to guarantee the independence of the judiciary. These are rights and obligation enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to which The Gambia is party.
The plaintiffs request the Court to declare The Gambia guilty of the above violations, and to order The Gambia to take immediate measures to restore the Applicants’ possession and total control of their properties at Kerr Mot Hali village, as well as pay them general damages.
25 June 2020: Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA) applies to be admitted as amicus curiae in the case.
8 October 2020: Court notifies Respondent of the Application, and requests for Respondent to submit names of its legal representatives.
10 October 2020: Court sends inquiry to Respondent on the possibility of an amicable settlement.
20 October 2020: Respondent submits list of legal representatives and acknowledges receipt of Notice of Service of the Application.
29 October 2020: Applicants notify Court of their willingness to pursue amicable settlement.
3 November 2020: Court notifies Respondent of Applicants’ willingness to pursue amicable settlement, and invites the Respondent to express its position on the subject matter.
23 April 2021: Applicants request Court to pass default judgment.
23 June 2021: Court notifies Respondent of Applicants’ request for default judgment.
6 April 2022: Court responds to ISLA’s amicus curiae application, inviting ISLA to specify the contribution they would like to make in the matter within 21 days of receipt of the notification.
6 April 2022: Court, pursuant to article 44(7) of its Rules, grants 45-day extension of time for Respondent to submit its response to the Application, without which Court will proceed to default judgment.