Houngue Eric Noudehouenou vs Republic of Benin
On October 15th, Mr. Houngue Eric Noudehouenou (the Applicant), filed an application instituting proceedings against the Republic of Benin (the defendant State) before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Court or the ACHPR) for alleged violations of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Charter) in its articles 3, 7 and 14.
On March 25th, 2020, the Republic of Benin withdrew the Declaration under which Benin accepted the jurisdiction of the Court to hear cases filed by individuals and non-governmental organizations. There was therefore a legal question regarding the fate of all the current cases not yet decided. In its judgment of September 22th, 2022, the Court clarified that this withdrawal had no impact on pending cases and on new cases referred to it before the entry into force of said withdrawal, i.e. on March 26th, 2021.
The Applicant maintains that, at the end of certain proceedings in which he had filed a declaration of voluntary intervention, the Court of First Instance of Cotonou (the Cotonou CFI) rendered without his knowledge, on June 05th, 2018, a judgment which deprived him of his right of ownership and which, moreover, was never notified to him. He introduced the present application for the purpose of hearing the Court of Justice ordering all necessary measures, in particular the suspension of the execution of that judgment.
The Court issued its order on the latter point on November 27th, 2020. It first verified that it had prima facie jurisdiction to rule on the case in accordance with 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 applications with the Court. However, the country deposited the instruments of withdrawal of this Declaration on 25 March 2020. The Court has applied its settled case-law according to which withdrawal does not have retroactive effect on cases pending before the Court and has therefore examined the other conditions for the validity of its jurisdiction;
- The violations alleged by the Applicant concerns rights protected in instruments to which the respondent State is a party.
The Court therefore concludes that it has prima facie jurisdiction to hear this case and has also ascertained the admissibility of the application.
With regard to the provisional measures requested, the Court concluded that the conditions of extreme gravity and urgency likely to cause irreparable harm to the Applicant necessary to order provisional measures were not met and, accordingly, rejected the request for interim measures.
The Applicant submitted a new request for the indication of provisional measures on December 16th, 2020. The Court once again refused to pronounce them for the same reasons as those previously invoked.
The Applicant again submitted a new request for the indication of provisional measures, this time requesting the Court to order the respondent State “to remove the obstacles to the exercise of the right to evidence” and to “ensure that it enjoys the right to seek, obtain and produce all documents necessary for the exercise of the rights of appeal and defence in proceedings concerning him”. In support of his claims, he claims that the Beninese Government has not implemented 3 orders and 4 judgements handed down by the Court. The latter ensured that it had prima facie jurisdiction to pronounce such measures, considered that the criteria of urgency and extreme gravity likely to cause irreparable damage were not met for the first plea, but ordered the suspension of the execution of the judgment of the Cotonou Court of First Instance.
Benin raised objections regarding the lack of jurisdiction and inadmissibility of the complaint. The Court delivered its judgment and considered that if it did have jurisdiction to hear the case, the application was not admissible in so far as the Applicant had filed the application with the Court of Justice after having lodged an appeal in cassation before the Beninese Supreme Court and the matter was still pending. Domestic remedies had therefore not been exhausted at the time of the initiation of the proceedings, a necessary condition for the admissibility of a complaint.
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.