The Community Court of Justice, on Friday, 9th June 2023 ordered the Republic of Guinea to pay Fifteen Millions (15 000 000) FCFA to a Guinean lawyer as compensation for the moral damages suffered for the violation of his rights following his arrest along with seven of his clients  by agents of the State in 2020.

The Applicant, Mamoudou Sane told the Court that while exercising his professional obligation and without any legal basis, he was arrested with his clients on the instruction of the Central Director of the Judiciary Police and led under escort to the  departement de la Police Judiciaire (DPJ) where they were detained before his release after the discovery of his identity as a lawyer. He further told the Court that following  the 24th February 2020 arrest, he filed a complaint against the Central Director of the Judicial Police of the Respondent, which has remained untreated by the Attorney General of the Conakry Court of Appeal. Consequently, he was forced to file an action before the ECOWAS Court for the violation of his fundamental rights and freedom by the Republic of Guinea, including his right to fair trial through his lawyer, Pepe Antoine Lama. 

Delivering the Court’s judgment in the  suit, the judge Rapporteur, Justice Ricardo Claudio Monteiro Gonçalves, recalled the admission by the respondent of the arrest and detention of the applicant, describing this as a violation of his right to liberty and security, as provided for in Articles 6 of the African Charter, 9(1) of the ICCPR and 3 and 9 of the UDHR.

The Court noted that the respondent had dismissed the arrest and detention as “ motivated by mere confusion with his clients and that as soon as the Applicant was released as soon as his status was established.” Consequently, the Court held that “ in the absence of any legal basis, this Court considers that the arrest of the Applicant was arbitrary and illegal, since the police authorities had to take care in advance who they had to arrest and why the arrest should have been made, therefore, acting otherwise violated the Applicant’s right to liberty and security under Articles 6 of the African Charter, 9(1) of the ICCPR and 3 and 9 of the UDHR.”

 The Court also declared that the Respondent violated the Applicant’s Right to due process, as provided for in Articles 7(1)(d) of the African Charter, 14(5) of the ICCPR and 8 of the UDHR, noting that it has been 39 months since the applicant filed the complaint on 24th February 2020 with the Respondent not following up as should have been the case. 

“This Court is certain that such a time delay is absolutely excessive to obtain a simple order of authorization with a view to the normal progress of the process, no matter how large the volume of cases that enter the Attorney General’s Office of the Defendant on a daily basis,” the Court noted, adding that “ the passage of all this time also demonstrates the lack of interest on the part of the Respondent in the investigation  to which, moreover, he is obliged , and the normal follow-up of that process, thus constituting a violation of the right to a fair trial to which the Applicant is entitled, pursuant to Article 7(d) of the Charter.” 

The Court therefore ordered the Respondent to initiate, without delay, proceedings against the perpetrators of the acts for which the Applicant was a victim, with a view to secure justice for the applicant. However, the Court declared groundless the other claims made by the Applicant.Citing Article 66(2) of its Rules, the Court ordered the Respondent will bear the costs of the proceedings. The Applicant had asked for an order of the Court to compel the Republic of Guinea to pay him the sum of two hundred (200) Million CFA as compensation for the damaged suffered and another order  to compel the respondent to treat his complaint against the office of the Central Director of the Judicial Police. 

In its response, the Republic of Guinea, which was represented by Mr Lanciné  Sylla, said that the alleged infringement of the personal liberty of the applicant because of his allegedly arbitrary arrest and detention cannot be considered by the Court for lack of evidence. Moreover, he said that beign a lawyers, the applicant should have known that he needed to attach a medico-legal report attesting to the alleged violence in his application. 

He alleged that during the raid by the judicial police operation that led to his arrest and detention, Mr. Sane came to identify himself with his clients and was opposing the acts of the officers who were carrying out their lawful duty leaving the officers with no choice  but to question him in the same way as his clients without even being aware that he is a lawyer.The Respondent maintained that when the applicant arrived at the Direction Centrale de la Police Judiciaire, he was identified as a lawyer during the usual check and imediately released  Mr. Mamoudou.

Consequently, he asked the Court to dismiss all the claims of the Applicant as ill-founded and instead order the applicant to pay the Republic of Guinea the sum of 15 000 000 FCFA as damages for the abuse of court process.

Also on the panel for the case are Justice Dupe Atoki (presiding) and Justice Sengu M. Koroma.