Banjul, 17 March 2021: IHRDA (on behalf of Changement Social Bénin) has filed a case against the Republic of Benin before the ECOWAS Court, challenging a decision of the Constitutional Court of Benin insinuating that decisions of the ECOWAS Court against Benin are not enforceable in Benin.

The case submitted to the ECOWAS Court on 16 March 2020 is based on Decision DCC 20-434 of 30 April 2020 issued by the Constitutional Court of Benin which ruled that Supplementary Protocol A/SP/1/01/05 of 19 January 2005 amending the Preamble, articles 1, 2, 9, 22 and 30 of Protocol A/P/91 relating to the ECOWAS Court is not enforceable against Benin, and that all acts resulting from the implementation of the said Protocol are void with respect to Benin.

The petitioners argue that, by the said Decision DCC 20-434 of 30 April 30 2020, the State of Benin is in violation of several articles of the Supplementary Protocol A/SP/1/01/05 of 19 January 2005, notably Article 11(1) regarding the obligation to respect its commitments by virtue of by signing the said Protocol, and Article 4(d) granting victims of human rights violations the right to seek remedy before the ECOWAS Court. The petitioners also evoke violation of Article 4(g) of the Revised ECOWAS Treaty on the respect, promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights in accordance with the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter); Article 7(1) of the African Charter and article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) concerning the right to have one’s cause heard, as well as Article 1 of the African Charter and Article 2 (3) (c) of the ICCPR on the right to reparation.

The petitioners request the ECOWAS Court to declare that Decision DCC 20-434 of April 30, 2020, of the Constitutional Court of Benin is in violation of the above provisions.

The said Constitutional court decision implies that people in Benin may not be able to seek redress for human rights violations perpetrated against them, especially when remedies in Benin are unavailable or inadequate. We therefore expect that this case would trigger a review of the said Decision and re-establish the right of persons in Benin to seek redress before the ECOWAS Court for human rights violations suffered. This case offers an opportunity for the ECOWAS Court to reinforce the obligation of States to take all appropriate steps to implement its decisions.