Komi Koutche vs Republic of Benin

On April 23rd, 2019, Mr. Komi Koutche, the applicant, filed an application instituting proceedings against the Republic of Benin before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the ACHPR or the Court) for alleged violations on the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Charter) in its articles 2, 3, 6, 7, 12, and 26.

Following audit reports on the management of the cotton sector and the management of the National Microfinance Fund (NMF) commissioned by the Beninese government, Mr. Komi Koutche had been indexed for mismanagement and embezzlement. He thought himself wronged in so far as he had not been heard before the publication of these reports, hence, the applicant lodged two appeals with the Constitutional Court concerning each of the reports for violation of the adversarial principle and the right of defence. Only one of these proceedings was upheld by the Constitutional Court.

Mr. Koutche also claims to have learned through the press that he was being prosecuted. His passport was cancelled and an authorization to arrest him if he were to enter the national territory issued by the Keeper of the Seals against him. An arrest warrant was transmitted to Interpol in September 2018. He was arrested in Madrid even though the warrant had been annulled by the investigating judge in charge of the case. A request for extradition to Benin has been sent to the Spanish Kingdom on the basis of a new arrest warrant issued in December 2018. In January 2019, the applicant was released by the Central Investigating Court number 1 in Spain. It appears from the information presented to the African Court that at the time of the filing of the referral, criminal proceedings opened before the Court for the Suppression of Economic Offences and Terrorism (CRIET) were still pending.

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 June 25th, 2021, 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. 

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 within 2 days after having lodged an appeal in cassation before the Beninese Supreme Court. 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.

Judgment of 25-06-2021.pdf

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.