ECOWAS Court Fines Sierra Leone Government One Million Dollars
Hon Justice Edward Amoako Asante yesterday 12th July, 2022, in Abuja Nigeria declared that Miles Investmenst (SL) Ltd et Al( Applicants) property rights, right to fair hearing and protection were violated by the Government of Sierra Leone (Respondent)
The ECOWAS community court of Justice has therefore ordered the government to pay the Applicants U$1million for general damages and ordered the Respondent to also bear thec costsof the proceedings and directs the Chief Registrar to assess the costs accordingly. The Court, having found that the Respondent is in violation of the rights of the Applicants contrary to Articles 3, 7, and 14 of the African Charter, renders the Respondent liable to make reparations.
The Judge premised the Court’s decision on the principle of international law that when a State has been found liable for an international wrong, the reparation is the sine qua non of to repair any harm caused to the victim.
“This Court has upheld in the case of MRS. MODUPE DORCAS AFOLALU V. REPUBLICOF NIGERIA (2014) th CCJELR 229
“The principle of reparation constitutes one of the fundamental principles of law regarding liability. It is sufficient that the harm to be repaired must exist in reality, must be directly linked to the victim, and shall be true and capable of being evaluated.”
Justice Asante declared that the Applicant’s right to work under Article 15 of the African Charter and Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was not violated by the Respondent and further dismissed all other declarations sought by the Applicant. Miles Investments (SL) Ltd et al claimed damages for the harm caused as a result of the violation by seeking US$30.5 million against the Respondent.
However, It is the case of the Applicants Justice Asante, the law clear that they were granted 21 year distinguishes between spec lease effective May 1, 2008, till April 30, 2029 by the Respondent of the beach land in Tokeh village to commence ice cube production business. During the hearing, the Respondent was seeking from the Court an order dismissing the Applicants’ application for failing to establish any breach of their rights as alleged in the said application together with the blatant misrepresentation of fact, which is a very grievous act. The Applicants, the Judge said woefully failed and/or refused to particularise in the pleadings, their losses consequent upon the forceful seizure of their property, and damages suffered. They instead chose to claim general damages for the harm caused as a result of the violation by seeking a colossal sum of Thirty Million, Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($30,500,000.00) against the Respondent .
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The award of general damages may cater for the loss of use of any assets confiscated, The Court believes, that their decision will give the Applicants hope that the Respondent State and indeed the entire West African Sub-region do take seriously their investment partners who invest in the sub-region.
“It will also serve as deterrent to other like-minded Member States in whose territories foreign investors are doing business. It is precisely because of this that the law awards exemplary, punitive, or aggravated damages in appropriate cases to demonstrate the Court’s disapproval of such outrageous of conduct on the part of the Respondent.
In this regard, damages sometimes must bite as one of the measures to fight the high rate of despondency and ineptitude in the treatment of investors in the sub-region, which goes a long way in negatively affecting the lives of Community citizens” the Judge said. It is the decision of the ECOWAS Court to state that having taken into reasonable account all the heads of damages in respect of which the Applicants are complaining award One Million United States Dollars ($1 000 000.00) as general damages to be paid S by the Respondent.
This general damage cost is being awarded to the Applicants for their complaint which relates to loss of all their investments, seizure of their assets, the 2nd Applicant and other directors have undergone; the effect of the loss of business opportunities; the expenses incidental to attempts to get back their business; the pecuniary loss sustained through inability to operate the business pre financed with loans; moral and psychological trauma suffered. Justice Asante, the Presiding/ Judge Rapporteur was joined on the panel by Hon. Justice Gberi-Be Ouattara and Hon. Justice Dupe ATOKI.
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The Judges were assisted by Dr. Athanase Atonnon, Deputy Chief Registrar