ECOWAS Court orders Burkina Faso to pay symbolic compensation for rights violation of businessman, associates

The Republic of Burkina Faso has been ordered to pay a symbolic one Franc CFA compensation to a businessman, Mr.…

The Republic of Burkina Faso has been ordered to pay a symbolic one Franc CFA compensation to a businessman, Mr. Kanazoe Inoussa, and three of his business partners for the violation of their human rights, while on trial for an offence that had been dismissed earlier by a government appointed judge after a year-long investigation
.Delivering judgment in suit no ECW/CCJ/APP/16/19 filed on 11th April 2019 by the four plaintiffs, the Judge Rapporteur for the case, Justice Gberi-be Ouattara, who read the judgment, said the compensation was for the violation of their right to fair hearing and the principles of rest judicata and the non-disclosure of vital documents.

The Court said it found that the applicants were sued based on a police report that was neither shared with them nor their lawyers thus violating two fundamental law principles- fair trial and denial of access to documents in addition to the violation of res judicata and adversarial principle.

The Court had earlier rejected a request by the plaintiffs for the accelerated hearing of the matter on the ground that the circumstances did not reveal any threat to their freedom and economic investments.

However, the court held that contrary to the claim of the plaintiffs, it did not recognise the violation of their right to appeal as they did not avail themselves of the opportunity provided by the numerous appellate courts that are functional as the ‘doubt of the plaintiffs did not prove their ineffectiveness.”

The Court also rejected a claim by the plaintiffs of dehumanizing treatment by the government for freezing their bank accounts and cancelling agreements they had with several financial partners. It also rejected a request by the plaintiffs for costs against the government and instead ordered that the parties bear their costs.

A statement by the ECOWAS Commission on Thursday in Abuja noted that the suit relates to a dispute involving investment in the cement company, CIMFASO between Kanazoe, the majority shareholder and another businessman, Koanda Moussa, who invested 6 billion CFA for a 30 percent shareholding in the company at its creation in 2013.

But a disagreement arose between them when Koanda Moussa rejected annual results of the company and requested to withdraw his shareholding and the payment of his investment and 11 billion CFA being interest on his initial investment.

In reaction, the government appointed an expert to investigate the allegations whose report was leaked to a newspaper, “Courrier Confidentiel” and formed the basis for the appointment of an investigating judge who after a yearlong investigation dismissed the allegations of forgery, fraud and tax evasion against the company as unfounded on 3rd October 2018.

But the government resurrected the case on 28th February 2019 after failing to avail itself of the appeal window allowed by the country’s law and sued the plaintiffs and three of his business partners for the same offence.