The Economic Community of West African States Court has ordered the government of The Republic of Gambia to pay the sum of $100,000 to citizens arrested, detained and tortured for embarking on a peaceful protest in 2016.

The ECOWAS Court in Abuja also held that the arrest and prolonged detention of Ousainou N M Darboe and 30 others by the APRC regime was arbitrary and went beyond the limit permitted by the law of The Gambia before the applicants were brought to court.

In the case with suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/27/16 and presided over by a three-man panel headed by Justice Edward Amoako Asante, the 32 applicants prayed the court to declare that section 5 of the Public Order Act of the Republic of The Gambia Chapter 22-01 is in violation of Article 11 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

They are also seeking a declaration that their torture and/or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the respondent (The Gambian state) and its agents violated Articles 4 and 5 of the ACHPR.

The document stated, “A declaration that their trial before the High Court of The Gambia without giving them the opportunity to be defended by counsel of their choice to choose counsel violated Articles 6 and 7 of the ACHPR.

“Award damages in the sum of D10 million to them for injuries sustained as a result of their torture and physical abuse by agents of the respondent and their arrest and unlawful detention and also asked for an order nullifying their purported charge, trial and imprisonment on the basis of the Public Order Act and their immediate release from prison.”

While delivering the ruling, the justices declared that act of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment meted out on the 1st (Ousainou Darboe), 3rd (Femi Peters), 4th (Lamin Dibba), 5th (Lamin Jatta) 15th (Fanta Darboe Jawara), 26th ( Nogoi Njie), 27th (Fatoumata Jawara), 28th (Fatou Camara), 30th (Ebrima Jawara) and 31st (Modou Ngum) violates Article 5 of the African Charter and ordered that The Gambia pay compensation and set up a panel to investigate the officers that arrested and detained the applicants.

“To pay the sum of $100,000 to 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 15th, 17th, 26th, 27th, 28th, 30th for the hardships and violations of their human rights caused to them by agents of the respondents.

“That the respondents sets up an independent panel of inquiry to look into the events of the 14th and 16th of April 2016 and also determine the persons responsible for the arrest, detention, torture and other forms of ill-treatment of the applicants be made to give account of their actions by putting in place effective measures to discipline and prosecute officers involved,” Justice Asante ordered.

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