The Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS, on July 10, 2024, affirmed that the Togolese Republic violated the right to work of Abiguime Maguiliwè and 52 Others. The Applicants claimed that the Republic of Togo violated their right to work, freedom of association, and right not to be subject to arbitrary detention.

Justice Ricardo Claúdio Monteiro Gonçalves, the judge Rapporteur who delivered the judgment, said that the Court dismissed the allegations regarding the right to freedom of association. The Court also declared no violation of the right to strike and the right not to be arbitrarily detained. However, it ordered the Republic of Togo to compensate each of the 53 Applicants with 10,000,000 CFA francs for violating their right to work while rejecting the other claims for compensation.

The Applicants, a group of Togolese teachers, alleged that after forming the Togolese Teachers’ Union (SET) on May 22, 2021, and submitting the required documents on June 18, 2021, the Togolese authorities refused to recognize the union.

They said that despite sending a “Platform of Demands” on February 3, 2022, and issuing a strike notice for March 24-25, 2022, SET received no response and faced threats and intimidation from authorities.

They explained that 150 teachers were transferred as disciplinary action between March and April 2022, and on April 8, 2022, three union leaders were arrested on charges of inciting uprising, which they deny.

They said that on April 25, 2022, some teachers were dismissed or suspended for participating in the strike. Additionally, the Court of Lomé prohibited the use of the acronym “SET,” which the Applicants contested, arguing that protection should focus on the name or domain, not the acronym.

The Respondent, despite being duly summoned, did not contest it.

In its judgment, the Court found that the Republic of Togo violated the Applicants’ right to work. The Togolese authorities had dismissed and temporarily suspended several teachers, including the Applicants, due to their participation in a strike. The Court determined that these actions did not follow a fair process and violated their rights to work.  Consequently, the Republic of Togo was ordered to pay each Applicant 10,000,000 CFA francs as compensation for this violation.

The Court also concluded that the Applicants’ right to freedom of association was not violated. The Togolese Teachers’ Union (SET) was not recognized due to the Applicants’ failure to comply with the updated procedures required by the new Labour Code, which came into force on the day of SET’s creation.

Additionally, the Court found no violation of the right to strike. Since the SET was not legally recognized, the suspension and dismissal of its members for participating in a strike were deemed lawful under Togolese legislation.

Furthermore, the Court ruled that the detention of three SET members, accused of inciting revolt, did not constitute a violation of their rights. The detentions followed due legal process, and the detainees were released within the legal time frame.

Also, on the three-member panel were Hon. Justice Edward Amoako Asante – Presiding, and Hon. Justice Sengu Mohamed Koroma – Member.