31st Session: Commissioner Dankwa
33rd Session: Commissioner Dankwa
34th Session: Commissioner Dankwa
35th Session: Commissioner Dankwa
SUMMARY OF FACTS
1. The complaint is filed by Interights and the World Organisation Against
Torture/Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture on behalf of individuals who
requested anonymity as permitted under Article 56(1) of the African Charter.
2. In their complaint, the complainants allege that between May 1999 and
March 2002, the Federal Republic of Nigeria has engaged in extra-judicial
executions, state-sponsored violence and impunity.
3. The complainants allege that during the said period, the Federal Republic
of Nigeria has directly, through its armed forces, members of its law
enforcement agencies and similar officials of the state, participated or
been complicit or implicated in the extra-judicial execution of cumulatively
over ten thousand persons at different locations in Nigeria.
4. They allege that the Federal Republic of Nigeria has directly, through
its armed forces, members of its law enforcement agencies and similar
officials of the state, participated or been complicit or implicated in the
verifiable and forcible internal displacement of over one million persons in
5. They allege that the Federal Republic of Nigeria has systematically and
deliberately in all the cases of extra-judicial execution and forcible
displacement, denied the victims access to remedies in violation of its
obligations under the African Charter. It has, by reason of all these
violations over a period of more than two and a half years, committed
systematic, serious and massive violations of human and peoples’ rights
recognised by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which is
domestic law in Nigeria.
6. The authors of the complaint allege that they have independently verified
the allegations described in the complaint. They assert that the
epidemiology of the violations described in the complaint precluded the
requirement to exhaust domestic remedies in Nigeria. They cited the decision
of the Commission on admissibility in the Communication 25/89 Free Legal
Group et al v. Zaire wherein the Commission held that the requirement of
exhaustion of local remedies need not be applied literally “in cases where
it is impractical or undesirable for the individual complainant to seize
domestic courts in the cases of each individual complainant. This is the
case where there are a large number of individual victims. Due to the
seriousness of the human rights situation as well as the great numbers of
people involved, such remedies as might theoretically exist in the domestic
courts are, as a practical matter, unavailable or, in the words of the
Charter, unduly prolonged.”
7. The Complainant alleges violation of Articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7(1), 12
(1), 13(1), 13(2), 14, 15, 16, 17(1), 17(2), 18, 25 and 26 of the African
Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
8. In their prayers for redress, the complainants request the Commission to:
a. undertake an independent investigation and verification of the violations
being complained of;
b. request, pending its decision on this communication, its Special
Rapporteurs on Human Rights of Women, on Summary, Arbitrary and
Extra-Judicial Executions, and on Prisons to undertake a joint investigation
of violence, extra-judicial executions and related violations in Nigeria and
to request the government to accede to the conduct of such an investigation;
c. request the government to verify the number and manner of death of all
victims of extra-judicial executions during the period covered by the
d. request the government to provide adequate and appropriate remedies to
the victims of violations alleged in this communication, including, in
particular, the prosecution of all persons implicated in the violations;
e. request the government to adopt and implement such measures as may be
indicated by the Commission to prevent recurrence of the violations
complained of in this communication; and
f. request the government to report periodically to the Commission on steps
taken by it to comply with the finding and remedies indicated by the
9. The Complaint, dated April 2002, was sent on 4th April 2002, and received
at the Secretariat on 5th April 2002.
10. At its 31st Ordinary Session held from 2nd – 16th May 2002 in Pretoria,
South Africa, the African Commission considered the complaint and decided to
be seized thereof.
11. On 28th May 2002, the Secretariat wrote to the complainants and
Respondent State to inform them of this decision and requested them to
forward their submissions on admissibility before the 32nd Ordinary Session
of the Commission.
12. At its 32nd, 33rd and 34th Ordinary Sessions, the communication was
deferred to enable the parties make submissions on admissibility.
13. At its 35th Ordinary Session held from 21st May to 4th June 2004 in
Banjul, The Gambia, the African Commission considered this communication and
declared it inadmissible.
14. Article 56 (5) of the African Charter requires that "a communication be
introduced subsequent to exhaustion of local remedies, if they exist, unless
it is obvious to the Commission that the procedure for such recourse is
15. The Complainants’ claim that theirs is a special case in which they
assert that, by the jurisprudence of the African Commission, the
epidemiology of the violations described precluded the requirement to
exhaust domestic remedies. Despite this, however, the African Commission had
decided, at its 32nd, 33rd and 34th Ordinary Sessions, that both parties
should forward their written submissions on admissibility.
16. Despite several reminders, the Complainants, in particular, have not
furnished their written submissions on admissibility. Consequently, the
African Commission holds that the Complainants have not shown if they have
exhausted local remedies as required by the African Charter.
For these reasons, and in accordance with Article 56(5) of the African
Charter, the African Commission, declares this communication inadmissible
due to non-exhaustion of local remedies.
Done at the 35th Ordinary Session held in Banjul, The Gambia from 21st May
to 4th June 2004.