Togolese Government ordered to pay 40 Million CFA for violating the rights of its former soldier

The ECOWAS Court of Justice has ordered the Togolese government to pay compensation totalling 40 million CFA to a former Togolese soldier, Dedjo Komla Sena for the violation of his fundamental human rights.

Justice Edward Amoako Asante, judge rapporteur who read the judgment said the Court ordered reparation after it found the Togolese government liable for the violations of his rights to human dignity (freedom from torture), work and fair hearing guaranteed under Articles 5, 7 and 15 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The government was also mandated to submit to the Court within three months, a report on the measures taken to implement the judgment.

In the initiating application with suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/03/17 filed on 11 January 2017 by his lawyers, Ferdinard Amazohoun and Claude Amegan, he alleged fundamental rights abuses and sought reliefs from the Court including an order compelling the Togolese government to investigate the incidents and prosecute the perpetrators, and the payment of 100 million CFA as compensation for damages.

In the application, which was supported by a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO)-The Coalition of Associations Against Impunity, the former soldier averred that he joined the country’s army in 1990 and on 26th June 1998 was run over by a   vehicle, his house razed by fire days later and hit by another vehicle, pursued, arrested and tortured and accused of being a supporter of the opposition party.

He added that while in hospital, he signed a document under duress which resulted in his dismissal from the army on the grounds that he abandoned his duty post.

Consequently, he submitted he was a victim of inhuman treatment and torture by agents of the Togolese government and eventually unfairly dismissed from the army.

In a counter argument, the Togolese government represented by Mr Baroh Kossi Apow objected to the Court admitting the case, arguing that the NGO representing Mr Sena lacked the capacity to appear before the Court describing the mandate submitted by the NGO as forged.

Mr Apow denied any wrongdoing and the allegations levelled against the government, maintaining that Mr Sena was dismissed from work for abandoning his duty post, and that his medical certificate was not sufficient proof of his allegations, adding that the matter  did not fall within the competence of the Court.

He therefore urged the Court to dismiss the claims as unfounded and order the Applicant to bear the costs.
In response, Mr Seno denied the forgery of his mandate and averred that he sought the assistance of the NGO and mandated it to give him legal representation.

Also on the panel were Justices Gberi-Be Ouattara and Januaria Costa.