COURT SCHEDULES DATE FOR JUDGMENT IN SUIT BY TOGOLESE FAMILIES OVER THE EXPROPRIATION OF THEIR LAND FOR ERECTION OF THE STATUE OF LATE PRESIDENT
The ECOWAS Court has scheduled judgment for 28th April 2023 in a case filed by Two Togolese families seeking compensation from the Republic of Togo for the demolition of their properties in 1979 for the construction of a statue of the late President Gnassingbe Eyadema. The Court fixed the date after the Thursday, 16th February 2023 hearing of the case during which the presiding Judge, Justice Edward Amoako Asante urged Counsel to the Applicants, Mr Eric Bizimana to address the Court on whether the case should still be entertained in view of the time of the alleged demolition.
But Mr. Bizimana argued that the matter was not statute barred and that the Court retains jurisdiction as the violation is continuous. Mr. Tetevi Kokou Woamede and Mr. Kossi Tamakloe, both retirees and acting on behalf of their respective families, sued the Republic of Togo alleging the violation of their fundamental human rights, particularly their right to own property through the action of the government in demolishing their properties for the erection of their statue.
In documents filed before the Court, the two families said they rejected an offer by the government for the payment of a lump sum of one million two hundred and sixty thousand (1,260,000) CFA as compensation to each of family.The hearing of Thursday 16th February 2023 was only attended by the counsel of the Applicants, Mr. Bizimana who maintained the stance of the families for the payment of commensurate compensation for their properties. In their initiating application filed with the Court on 31st January 2022, the applicants, who are represented by the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA), a pan-African non-governmental organization and the Center for Documentation and Training on Human Rights (CDFDH), a non-profit association for the protection and promotion of human rights, asked the State to pay to the WOAMEDE family the sum of Three hundred and twenty nine million ninety thousand nine hundred and fifty (329,090,950) CFA francs.
They also urged the Court to order the State to pay another Six hundred and twenty-four million eight hundred and forty thousand (624,840,000) CFA francs to the Tamakloe family in compensation for the material and moral damages suffered. The families also urged the Court to hold the Republic of Togo responsible for the violation of the right to property, the right to housing and the right to reparation as enshrined in the international instruments on human rights cited in their application.
They claimed that efforts by the families to seek reparation for the damages suffered from the Respondent State were unsuccessful and that the inaction of the State constitutes a violation of their property rights as enshrined in Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; their right to housing guaranteed by article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as their right to reparation, guaranteed by article 1 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.The applicants, who are represented by Mr. Gaye Sowe, Eric Bizimana and Desire Bigirimana, all three acting on behalf of CDFDH and IHRDH, recalled that in 1979, the State demolished their properties to construct the statue of former President Eyadema adding that all the steps taken for compensation were unsuccessful.
They added that on May 27, 1991, they unsuccessfully approached the National Commission of Human Rights seeking remedy for the demolition. The two families added that in June 2010, each of them submitted a deposition to the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (CVJR) about the demolition following which a lump sum compensation of One million two hundred and sixty thousand (1,260,000) CFA francs was offered to the families, which they rejected because they considered it insufficient, preferring instead a compensation commensurate with the value of the damage.The applicants said that in view of their insistence for the payment of commensurate compensation, the High Commissioner for Reconciliation and Strengthening of National Unity (HCRRUN) dispatched a fact-finding mission to the site in Kpalime in Togo which after interviewing residents of the area, concluded that the land belongs to the respondent State.
They applicants concluded that despite multiple administrative appeals since 1979, they have not as at November 2021 been compensated for the expropriation by the Togolese Republic of their properties.Also on the panel for the case are Justices Gberi-be Ouattara and Dupe Atoki .