The ECOWAS Court has on 6 June 2024 dismissed all claims brought by a Liberian citizen and a company alleging the violation of their rights to property by the government of Liberia.

Justice Edward Amoako Asante, President and Judge Rapporteur who delivered the judgment said that the Court had jurisdiction to hear the matter as it related to claims of human rights violation and that the matter was admissible.

On the merits of the case, the Court held that the Liberian government did not violate the rights of Mr Jack Rockson and the company, Global Agriculture Development, to own and possess property under Article 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR).

It also dismissed the Applicants’ demand for compensation of 1,000,000 USD (one million dollars) for Mr Rockson who has 5% shares of Global Agriculture Development, and a total of 20,700,383 USD with interest per annum from November 2015 to Global Agriculture Development for loss of profit on its investment in a cocoa farm.

The case ECW/CCJ/APP/31/17 was filed before the Court on 18 August 2017 by lead counsel Mr Celestus Ejezie alleging violation of the Applicants right to possession and enjoyment of their property as guaranteed under Article 14 of the African Charter. The Application stated that the First Applicant, Mr Rockson, obtained an allocation for land in Todee District of Liberia and leased it to Global Agriculture Development for the cultivation of a cocoa farm. However, the delay and/or neglect by the President of Liberia to sign and release the title deeds to the land prevented the Applicants from defending the land and the farm against encroachment and vandalisation by third parties.

Counsel for the Applicants asked the Court to declare the delay and/or neglect by the government to sign and release Mr Rockson’s title deeds infringed on the Applicants’ right to property. He also requested the Court to declare that the government’s failure to protect the cocoa farm from vandalization violated the Applicants’ right to property including loss of expected profits totaling 20,700,383 USD.

In its defence, the Respondent told the Court that forwarding of title deed to the office of the President did not guarantee its signing as necessary due diligence needed to be conducted. It also argued that the destruction of farmlands was carried out by private individuals and that the relevant state agencies were not notified for necessary action. In its judgment, the Court dismissed all the claims of the Applicants and ordered both parties to bear their costs. Also on the bench were Justices Gberi-Be Ouattara and Dupe Atoki.