Sébastien Germain Marie Aikoue Ajavon vs Republic of Benin
On June 22nd, 2020, Mr. Aikoue Ajavon, Applicant, filed before the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights (the court) an application instituting proceedings against the Republic of Benin for alleged violations of the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Charter) in its articles 7(1), 7(1)(a), 7(1)(c), 14, 16 and 18.
In the present instance, Mr. Aikoue Ajavon maintains that the Beninese State launched an investigation against him for “forgery of public documents, complicity in forgery of public documents and fraud” before the Investigative Commission of CRIET which rendered a a judgment dismissing the case partially and referring him back to the CRIET Trial Chamber. This decision was confirmed bu CRIET’s Appeals Investigation Section on June 18th, 2020. On the same day, the Applicant appealed this decision before the Supreme Court.
On March 25th, 2020 the Republic of Benin deposited the instruments of withdrawal of the Court’s declaration of jurisdiction to receive applications from individuals and non-governmental organizations. In issuing its decision on December 2nd, 2021, the Court has been faithful to its consistent jurisprudence of dealing with all cases enrolled in the Registry before the date of entry into force of the withdrawal of the declaration.
The Applicant also asked the Court to order provisional measure to suspend the effects of the judgments of CRIET while the matter is still pending before the African Court.
The Court ruled on this matter in an order dated November 27th, 2020. It first had to ascertain its prima facie jurisdiction to hear this dispute according article 3(1) of the Protocol of the Court:
- Benin is a party to the Charter and Protocol of the Court and has deposited the declaration allowing individuals and NGOs to file application with the Court. However, the country deposited the instruments of withdrawal of this Declaration on March 25, 2020. The Court has applied its settled case-law according to which which withdrawal has no retroactive effect on cases pending before the Court;
- The alleged violations deal with rights that are protected by international instruments to which the defendant State is a member.
The Court concludes that it has prima facie jurisdiction to hear this case and that the matter is admissible.
With regards to the provisional measures requested, the Court concludes that the conditions of extreme gravity and urgency likely to cause irreparable harm to the Applicant that are necessary to order provisional measures were not met because the appeal lodged to the Supreme Court achieved the desired result. It therefore rejected this request.
By a decision of January 29th, 2021, the Supreme Court rejected Mr. Aikoue Ajavon’s appeal. Once again, the Applicant filed before the African Court a request for the indication of provisional measures with the effect to suspend the implementation of the judgments of national courts as long as the African Court had not ruled on the merits of the case. The African Court ascertained its prima facie jurisdiction and deemed the matter admissible. It however noted that the ruling of the CRIET trial chamber on March 1st, 2021 made the request for the indication of provisional measures irrelevant.
The Applicant filed a third request for the order of provisional measures asking the Court to halt to halt the implementation of the judgment of March 1st, 2021 which sentenced him to 20 years in prison and issued an arrest warrant for him. In this case, the Court ruled that it had a prima facie jurisdiction, that the application was admissible and that the conditions of extreme gravity, urgency and risk of irreparable harm were met. The Court therefore issued an order of provisional measures stating that the Republic of Benin halted all proceedings until such time that the African Court could rule on the merits of the case.
Benin raised objections relating to the lack of jurisdiction of the Court and the inadmissibility of the application. After examining the pleas in law, the Court declared that it had jurisdiction to hear the case. With regard to admissibility, it examined in turn all the criteria listed in article 50 of the Rules of Court and concluded that the application had been lodged 2 days after the Applicant appealed the Supreme Court. As he had not exhausted all national remedies available, the application before the African Court was not admissible.
This summary is provided for informational purposes only, does not involve the responsibility of Dome and should in no way be used as a substitute for a careful reading of the judgment and order of the case.