IHRDA sues Gambia before ECOWAS Court for violating citizens’ right to property

Banjul, 12 February 2020: The “Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa” (IHRDA) and Gambian lawyer on 30 November 2019 filed a lawsuit against The Gambia before the ECOWAS Court of Justice, on behalf of three Gambians and the Ker Mot Hali Community, concerning the violation of their right to property.

The three Gambians and their people are inhabitants of Kerr Mot Hali Village, where they were chased out of their homes and property by State security forces in 2009 on account of their religion, cultural and traditional practices. They settled in neighboring Senegal and made several efforts to return to their homes and properties in the Village, but intercepted by Gambia Police. Thus, their homes and properties were wrongfully taken over by people unknown to them. Due to the hostile political environment that prevailed at the time and the fact that the Applicants and their people were forced to emigrate from their village by State’s security agents, they could not seek redress before judicial mechanisms in The Gambia. However, with the ousting of former President Yahya Jammeh, the Applicants and their people returned to The Gambia and instituted a civil suit in March 2017 at the High Court against Government, claiming their ownership of the community land. Though the High Court decided in favour of the Applicants in October 2017, The Gambia has taken no measure to enforce the judgment. Thus, the Applicants are still unable to return to their homes and properties in the said village, as the unlawful occupants are still there.

The plaintiffs allege that The Gambia is in violation of their right to property, their right for their cause to be heard, as well the duty of the State to guarantee the independence of the judiciary. These are rights and obligation enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to which The Gambia is party.

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