CHAIRMAN: Professor E.V.O. Dankwa
VICE CHAIRPERSON: Mrs. Julienne Ondziel-Gnelenga
COMMISSIONERS: Professor Isaac Nguema, Dr. Hatem Ben Salem, Mr.
Kamel Rezag-Bara, Dr. Nyameko Barney Pityana, Mr. Andrew Ranganayi
Chigovera, Mrs. Vera Mlangazuwa Chirwa, Mrs. Jainaba Johm
||Legal Def. Ctr. v. Gam., Comm.
219/98, 13th ACHPR AAR Annex V (1999-2000)
||IHRDA, Compilation of Decisions on
Communications of the African Commission On Human and Peoples’
Rights Extracted from the Commission’s Activity Reports 1994-2001,
at 123 (2002); Documents of the African Commission on Human and
Peoples’ Rights, Vol. 2, at 187 (Malcolm D. Evans & Rachel Murray
eds., 2009); (2000) AHRLR 121 (ACHPR 2000)
24th Session: Commissioner Badawi
25th Session: Commissioner Badawi
26th Session: Commissioner Pityana
27th Session: Commissioner Chigovera
SUMMARY OF FACTS
1. The complainant is an NGO based in Nigeria and has observer status with
the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
2. The complainant alleges the illegal deportation of a Nigerian National
from The Gambia.
3. It is alleged that the deportee, Mr. Sule Musa, was a journalist with the
Daily Observer a Gambian newspaper.
4. It is alleged that Mr. Sule Musa was arrested within the premises of his
office by Corporal Nyang. After his arrest he was taken to the Bakau Police
Station from where he was directed to surrender his International Passport.
He was then driven home to pick his passport and afterwards taken to the
Police headquaters in Banjul, and from there to the Immigration Department,
where he was told he was being deported to go and face trials for crimes he
committed in Nigeria.
5. It is alleged that on arrival at the airport on 9 June 1998, Mr. Sule
Musa was neither allowed food, water or a bath until 10 June 1998 after he
had been served with his deportation order for being an “undesirable alien”.
6. Complainant alleges that Mr. Sule Musa was being deported for his
writings in the Daily Observer on certain diverse issues concerning Nigeria,
under the Military regime of General Sani Abacha.
7. It is alleged that upon his arrival in Nigeria there was no immigration
or police officer to arrest him for the purported crimes he had committed in
8. Furthermore, the complainant alleges that Mr. Sule Musa was not allowed
to take any of his personal effects before he was deported. Inevitably his
property is in the Gambia while he is in Nigeria and cannot return as the
deportation order still subsists.
9. The complainant alleges that the following Articles of the African
Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights have been violated:
Articles 7, 9, 12(4), 2, 4, 5 and 15.
10. The complaint is dated 27 July 1998 and was received at the Secretariat
of the Commission on 9 September 1998.
11. At the 24th ordinary session, the Commission decided to be seized of the
complaint and parties were informed accordingly.
12. The Commission at its 25th ordinary session held in Bujumbura, Burundi,
postponed consideration of the communication to the next session while
requesting the Secretariat to investigate whether the complainant could have
recourse to the local courts in the Gambia.
13. Letters were sent to the parties by the Secretariat requesting for
additional information on the availability of local remedies but no response
has been received.
14. Furthermore, the Secretariat established contact with the Attorney
General of the Gambia and solicited her assistance. This resulted in a
meeting on 10 March 2000, at the Secretariat of the Commission between the
State Counsel in the Department of State for Justice and the Legal Officer
at the Secretariat. The State Counsel promised to send their submissions on
all the complaints but the submissions promised were not sent.
15. Article 56(5) of the Charter provides:
“Communications…shall be considered if they:
…are sent after exhausting local remedies, if any, unless it is obvious that
this procedure is unduly prolonged.”
16. The complainant had argued that no domestic remedies are available for
Mr. Musa inside the Gambia as the deportation order was still subsisting.
And in consequence that Mr. Musa is disabled in seeking redress by invoking
any legal or administrative process.
17. The Commission observed that the victim does not need to be physically
in a country to avail himself of available domestic remedies, such could be
done through his counsel. In the instant case, it noted that the complaint
was filed by a Human Rights NGO based in Lagos, Nigeria. Rather than
approach the Commission first, the complainant ought to have exhausted
available local remedies in the Gambia. The Commission therefore concludes
that the complainant has failed to comply with the provision of Article
56(5) of the Charter.
FOR THE ABOVE REASONS, THE COMMISSION declares the communication
Done in Algiers, Algeria on 11 May 2000.