Child rights violation: ECOWAS court orders Cote d’Ivoire to pay CFA 250m, amend laws

The ECOWAS Court of Justice ordered that the government of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire is liable for the violation of the rights of a girl who was excluded from benefitting from the estate of her late father.

The court in its judgment in the suit filed by Dame Marie  Ajami on behalf her under-aged daughter, ordered the government to pay 250 million CFA in damages for violating her right to equality before the law.

Justice Januaria Moreira Costa who read the judgment by a three-member  panel of justices, also ordered the Ivoirian government to amend its legislation concerning paternity and affiliation to align it with its obligation under Article 1 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The court however dismissed the plaintiff’s allegation of unfair trial before the Ivoirian courts and all other claims.

In a suit no: ECW/CCJ/APP/23/16 filed before the Court on 22 August 2016, the plaintiff alleged the gross violation of the fundamental rights of her daughter by the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire particularly her rights to fair trial, equality before the law, non discrimination and respect for the best interest of the child.

The plaintiff claimed that her daughter’s birth was duly registered in Côte d’Ivoire in view of the father’s declaration and that the defendant’s national court’s denial of the daughter’s benefits of her late father’s succession was not in the interest of the child thereby violating the fundamental rights of the child.

She therefore urged the Court to declare the defendant liable for the violations, and pay five billion CFA Francs as reparation for the prejudice suffered and all other costs.

She also sought an order for a retrial before the national courts to repair the prejudice.

On their part, the defendant argued that the ECOWAS Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case on the grounds that it was not a Court of Appeal for national courts.

The defendant also argued that Article 22 of its law on paternity and affiliation requires that recognition by a father for a child born outside of legal marriage must be made with the consent of his legal wife.

He added that the Ivoirian legislation aims to promote marriage and legitimate family and encourage morality.

The three-member panel comprised Honourable Justices Gberi-Be Ouattara (presiding), Dupe Atoki and Januaria T.S. Moreira Costa (judge rapporteur).

In another case suit no. ECW/CCJ/APP/51/18 involving Tahirou Djibo & three others, the Court dismissed as unfounded, the claim of the Plaintiffs of the violation of their right to property by the Republic of Niger.

Justice Januaria T.S. Moreira Silva who also delivered the judgment of the Court while declaring the case admissible, observed that the plaintiffs did not provide adequate proof regarding its ownership of the land in the suit.

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