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Molmou v Guinea: The ECOWAS Court of Justice at the Service of its Member States

Author: Fréderic Foromo LOUA, Jonathan KAUFMAN, Business and Human Rights Journal, Volume 2, Issue 1, Published on: 23 February 2017

Since May 1987, the Société Guinéenne de Palmier Huile et d’Hévéas (SOGUIPAH)… has forcibly occupied land that was traditionally owned and farmed by the people of Saoro District [and] on 3 February 2003, the Guinean government granted SOGUIPAH an executive decree expropriating community land and transferring it to the company…Community members organized protests and resistance to SOGUIPAH’s occupation [but the company and] the state’s response was consistent and brutal… Given the involvement of Guinean government forces, the people of Saoro… decided to sue Guinea and SOGUIPAH in the ECOWAS Court of Justice… [The Court’s decision] diverges in several significant respects from international jurisprudence…[as it] dismissed the claims against SOGUIPAH because ‘only states can be defendants in suits for the violation of human rights’…, concluded that its protection against deprivation does not apply to the people of Saoro because they do not constitute a ‘people’ …[and] dismissed the claims of violent abuse…on the basis of a lack of documentary proof…In the SOGUIPAH case, the Court has rendered a judgment whose approach and analysis…could make justice unattainable for traditional communities lacking formal land title or documentary proof of human rights violations.

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