The ECOWAS Court, on 6th June 2024, ruled that it was not proven that the Republic of Togo violated Akolly Hanou Woetru’s right to participate in public affairs, either directly or through freely chosen representatives, as guaranteed by Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 13(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), and Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The Applicant, Mrs. Akolly Hanou Woetru, accused the Togolese Republic of denying her the right to fully participate in the electoral process.

Two days after the originating application was received at the Court Registry, an application for voluntary intervention was filed before the Court.

Justice Ricardo Cláudio Monteiro Gonçalves, the Judge Rapporteur who delivered the judgment, emphasized the Court’s meticulous examination of the case. The Court declared itself competent to examine the application and found it admissible for the first Applicant. However, it dismissed the application as inadmissible for the intervening political parties and rejected all of the Applicant’s other claims.

In this case, the applicant, a Togolese citizen from Lomé, Bè Adidomé neighborhood, seeks to enforce her civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights ahead of the 2023 elections. She said that voter registration in her area, Zone 1, from April 29 to May 8, 2023, was hindered by supply shortages and equipment failures, affecting many, including her. She said that Political and civil groups criticized these issues and urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to resume operations in Zone 1. Despite acknowledging the problems, INEC closed registration on June 22, 2023, without extending

the deadline, sparking further criticism. The applicant claimed these irregularities compromised her fundamental rights, violating democratic principles.

The Defendant argued that the Applicant’s claim lacks concrete evidence of her efforts to register to vote or stand as a candidate. Additionally, it said that the Applicant ignored the administration’s efforts to resolve registration issues and did not acknowledge the communications praising the work of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and registration operators. It concluded that The Applicant could not be considered a victim of a violation of her right to be registered on the electoral roll due to the lack of evidence of reasonable efforts seeking the enjoyment of that right.

In its judgment, the Court found that since it has not been alleged or demonstrated that the Applicant was unable to register on the electoral roll due to a lack of diligence on her part or that the Togolese authorities did not take all the necessary measures to ensure that every citizen could register on the electoral roll, it is not possible for the Court to find that the Togolese State imposed unjustified restrictions on the Applicant’s right to participate in the direction of her country’s public affairs.

The panel included Hon. Justice Gberi-bè Ouattara, presiding, and Hon. Justice Sengu Mohamed Koroma, Member.