Sixty-nine cases would be handled virtually by the ECOWAS Court of Justice during the first quarter of 2021, according to the cause list released by the Registry of the Court.

Eleven of the cases are scheduled for judgment while the remaining 58 cases are scheduled for hearing.

In one of the cases scheduled for judgment on 3 February, a Non-governmental Organisation, the Collectif Cri de Coeur pour le Mali is asking the Court to hold the government of Mali liable for the violation of the rights of the victims of sexual abuse related to the conflict in the country’s North.

In suit no. ECW/CCJ/APP/58/18, the NGO also urged the Court to hold the government liable for denying the victims their right to fair trial and effective remedy as well as the failure to rehabilitate and compensate the victims

The Applicant averred that during the armed conflict in Northern Mali and the capture of Gao town by the armed group, children of less than 18 years suffered severe sexual violence including rape, forced marriage and sex slavery and that these victims neither received healthcare nor social services from the Malian government.

It alleged that after the government took over the region from the armed group, some of the perpetrators who continue to live within their community, joined the loyalist groups and were occupying high positions to avoid judicial and disciplinary prosecutions.

The Applicant equally submitted that the State failed in its obligation to protect the victims as guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and to compensate them for the serious violations.

The NGO is seeking among others, orders of the Court compelling the Republic of Mali to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators, provide medical and psychological care to the victims, protect the victims and witnesses during investigation and prosecution, and pay each of the victims the sum of 40,000,000 CFA franc and 15,000,000 CFA franc for the physical and moral damages suffered respectively. The Court will deliver its judgment on 3rd February 2021.

Also scheduled for judgment on 3rd February 2021 in suit ECW/CCJ/APP/13/19, a Beninoise, Fidèle Sonon alleged that Decision EL-19-001 delivered by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Benin on 1st February 2019 which compelled candidates to obtain certificates of conformity from the government violated the country’s obligation to ensure the establishment of independent and impartial electoral bodies.

The plaintiff claimed that the decision made the Minister of Interior and Public Security, which has responsibility for issuing the certificates, an actor in the legislative electoral process.

The Applicant also alleged that there is a biological relationship between the president of the Parti du Renouveau Democratic (PRD) political party and one of the electoral commissioners which deepens the mistrust of the citizens in a transparent and fair process of elections and non-discrimination among political parties.

The Applicant claimed that the Respondent also violated its obligation by unilaterally altering the electoral laws less than six months to the election, limits the choice available to the electorate and equally violated the Applicant’s right to participate directly and freely in the public affairs of his country.

He is demanding the sum of 500,000,000 CFA franc for moral damages suffered.

Nine other judgments will also be delivered virtually between 25th January and 10th March 2021.

On 9th February 2021, the Court will resume hearing in suit No ECW/CCJ/APP/07/18 filed by an NGO and two others alleging the mismanagement of $14 million Ebola funds by the government of Sierra Leone which the applicants alleged constitute the violation of their rights to life and effective healthcare.

The Applicants – the Center for Accountability and the Rule of Law, Hawa Jalloh, and Fatimata Sessay, are also urging the Court to hold the Republic of Sierra Leone liable for failing to conduct a prompt and effective investigation into the violations to ensure accountability and prevent future violations. The parties will appear before the Court following their failure to reach an amicable settlement.

In another suit ECW/CCJ/APP/21/18, filed before the Court on 18 May 2018, the Applicants Société Togolaise de Stockage de Gaz (STSG) and five of its shareholders alleged the violation of their rights to property following the breach of an agreement it entered into with the Republic of Togo for the construction of a gas terminal to increase gas supply in the country.

The cases will be determined by different panels each of three honourable judges including Justices Edward Amoako Asante (president), Gberi-be Ouattara (vice president), Dupe Atoki, Keikura Bangura and Januaria Moreira Costa.

The ECOWAS Court of Justice launched its virtual court sessions on 22nd June 2020 after updating its Practice Direction and in adherence to health advisory issued (safety guidelines) by the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local Content and Sustainable Development in Global Energy Markets (Cambridge University Press, January, 2021) By Professor Damilola S. Olawuyi, SAN, FCIArb, Professor of Law and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti For more information or to pre-order your copies, please contact: Mr. Keji Kolawole: info@ogeesinstitute.edu.ng; Twitter: @dsolawuyi, Tel: +234 81 40000 988

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