Niger “Convicted” of Failing to Stop Slavery

by Julian Ku

 The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Community Court of Justice has found that the West African state of Niger has violated its obligations to protect its citizens for slavery.  Specifically, Niger failed to prevent  Hadijatou Mani, who was sold into slavery at the age of 12 in 1996 for about £300 and regularly beaten and sexually abused.  The Court awarded a judgment of 10 million CFA francs in damages, which is about $US 22,500.  

I’ll admit up front that I know very little about the ECOWAS Court, so I don’t know the basis for jurisdiction or even which treaty or norm Niger was held to have violated. Its not that I have any doubt that slavery is illegal under international law, it’s that it has been outlawed so many times in so many treaties, that it is hard to know which legal instrument to pick.If anyone has a link to an online version of the judgment, I’d be very appreciative.

http://opiniojuris.org/2008/10/28/niger-convicted-of-failing-to-stop-slavery/

2 Responses

  1. Julian, I haven’t managed to find a copy of this online either. Nor do I know much about this Court. But just on the ‘what basis’ point, the court could of course have decided on the basis of jus cogens. But as I said, I don’t know much about this at all. The hunt for the judgment proceeds apace everywhere, I think!

  2. You can find out a bit more on the interrights website at http://www.interights.org/niger-slavery and Anti-Slavery International http://www.antislavery.org/archive/briefingpapers/Niger_case_at_ECOWAS.pdf

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