Republic of Senegal ordered to compensate two Senegalese who were arbitrarily arrested and detained in 2017

The Republic of Senegal has been ordered to pay 30 million CFA in compensation for the violation of the human rights of Mr. Assane Diouf and Mr. Cheikh Mbacké Gadiaga, two of its citizens who were arbitrarily arrested and detained in November 2017.

Delivering judgment in a suit filed by the two Senegalese, the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice ordered that 20 million CFA of the amount should go to Mr. Diouf while the balance of 10 million CFA should be paid to Mr. Gadiaga for the violation of their right to fair hearing and within reasonable time.

In suit no. ECW/CCJ/APP/54/18, Mr. Diouf alleged that he was deported from the United States as an illegal immigrant after the government of Senegal tipped off the US government that he was a questionable character, a terrorist and consequently a threat to the public, allegations that were proved to be unfounded upon investigation by the US government.

Mr Diouf, a resident of the United States and social media critique of the government and officials, averred that he was arrested on arrival in the Country as well as arbitrarily detained and tortured while Mr. Gadiaga was later arrested and detained by officials of the government of Senegal as an accomplice.

In delivering judgment, a panel of three judges of the Court presided over by Honorable Justice Gberi-Be Ouattara rejected the contention of the defence Counsel about the jurisdiction of the Court and ruled that it has jurisdiction to adjudicate in the matter as it concerned allegation of human rights violation, and that the matter was admissible since it was not an anonymous application and not before another international Court among others.

The Court also held that the plaintiffs’ right to fair hearing and within reasonable time was violated as they were victims of arbitrary detention though they did not produce any evidence in support of their allegation of torture and inhuman treatment while in detention.

The Court therefore awarded the monetary compensation of 20 Million CFA to Mr.  Diouf and 10 Million CFA to Mr. Gadiaga for the violations.

Also on the panel were Honorable Justices Edward Amoako, and Keikura Bangura.

The Court however dismissed another case brought by Mr. Ndiaga Soumare against the government of Senegal alleging the violation of his rights on the grounds that the right of the plaintiff was not breached by the State.

In suit no. ECW/CCJ/APP/32/16, Mr. Soumare who is a Senegalese Customs Officer, alleged that his right to fair hearing, freedom of association and opinion were violated by the government in preventing him from belonging to a labour union and suspending him after attending the meeting of a Union in Mali.

In the initiating application filed by Mr. Amadou Diallo, the plaintiff’s counsel,
among other reliefs, had asked the Court for an order  to compel the country to amend its law so that Custom’s officers can be guaranteed the right to belong to a labour union.

But in their argument, Mr Birima Fall, Counsel to the government averred that the government respects the rule of law and protects the rights of its citizens including custom officers but that some agencies including customs who could cripple essential services or endanger the security of the country were not allowed by law to join/form labour union.

He added that custom officers in Senegal enjoyed the privilege of good working and living standards and that the plaintiff had already been reinstated to his position with all his benefits.