The Nation

Coup: Court dismisses suit by Malian groups over ECOWAS’ sanction against Mali

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By Eric Ikhilae, Abuja

The Community Court of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS Court) on Friday dismissed a case brought by two Malian groups challenging the sanction imposed on Mali in the wake of the August 18, 2020 against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali.

The groups – the Malian Coalition and the Consumers Association of Mali – had, in the suit, argued among others,  that the sanction was imposed through a statement issued by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, who they claimed,  lacked the competence to issue such a statement.

Ruling on two interlocutory processes filed by the groups, a three-member panel of the court, led by Justice Dupe Atoki declined jurisdiction.

Other members of the panel are:  Justices Keikura Bangura and Januária Tavares Silva Moreira Costa.

The court held that it found that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the case, having subjected the statement to the various categories of situations in which it could exercise jurisdiction

“Jurisdiction is fundamental to the power of the Court and it must be established, more so, when raised as an objection… and the need to establish same is imperative even in a preliminary procedure as this,” the court said.

It added: “This court comes to the conclusion that it cannot situate the statement of the President of the ECOWAS Commission either as directive, decision, recommendation nor opinion.

“Consequently, it has no jurisdiction to entertain the Applicants allegation as regards the statement of the President of the commission.”

The court held that while it was not persuaded by the reasons adduced by the first Respondent, the ECOWAS Commission,  it was inclined to declare the application inadmissible based on the provisions of Article 9 (a-e) of the 2005 Protocol of the Court from where it derived its jurisdiction.

It also cited Article 6 (2) of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty which obliges institutions of the Community to exercise their functions within the limits of the powers confined by the ECOWAS Revised Treaty, Supplementary Acts and annexed Protocols.

Consequently, the court also ruled that since it has no jurisdiction to hear the case, it will not deliberate on the legality of the statement and therefore dismissed all other claims in the application.

In the initiating application filed before the court on 9th September 2020, the associations claimed that the sanctions constitute not only the violation of the right of the people of Mali to the freedom of movement guaranteed in ECOWAS texts, but also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of Malian citizens in the community as well as their right to non-discrimination.

Among the reliefs sought by the Applicants, is an order for the payment of compensation for prejudices suffered in the sum of 1,000,000 CFA francs for each individual, another 10,000,000 CFA francs for each legal person as well as the payment of the same amount for the violation of their human rights.

The groups also prayed the court to order the state of Cote d’Ivoire to pay a symbolic 1 CFA to the plaintiffs for the violation of their human rights, through the discriminatory treatment of Malians.

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