Kouassi Kouame et Baba Sylla vs Cote d’Ivoire
On April 23rd, 2021, Misters Kouassi Kouame and Baba Sylla (together the Applicants), filed an Application instituting proceedings against the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire (the Respondent 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 People’s Rights (the Charter) in Articles 7 and 13.
The applicants were members of the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire – African Democratic Rally (PDCI-RDA) and candidates in the legislative elections of March 6th, 2021. Alleging material irregularities and violations of electoral laws, they appealed to the Constitutional Council for the invalidation of the provisional results in electoral district No. 053, Yamoussoukro Commune 2. On March 22th, 2021, the Constitutional Council dismissed the Applicants’ appeal on the grounds that they did not provide evidence of the irregularities they denounced, who then referred the matter to the Court.
On April 29th, 2020, the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire 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 September 22th, 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.
As a preliminary point, Cote d’Ivoire raised objections relating to the lack of jurisdiction of the Court and inadmissibility of the application. After examining the matters, the Court concluded that the case was admissible and declared itself competent to hear it. It then turned to the merits of the case.
As regards, first of all, to the alleged violation of the right to be heard by an independent and impartial tribunal (Article 7 of the Charter), the Applicants claim that the composition and method of appointment of the members of the Constitutional Council offer no guarantee of independence and impartiality of this body, which Côte d’Ivoire vigorously defends on the basis of Article 126 of the Constitution. The Applicants also claim that the Constitutional Council did not give reasons for its decision. The respondent State asserts that these allegations are “serious and unfounded”. After examining the pleas in law submitted, the Court considered that the court based its decision on objective and fairly clear arguments giving the parties the assurance that they had been heard.
As regards, next, to the alleged violation of the right to engage in political activity (Article 13 of the Charter), the Applicants claim that their delegates were excluded and expelled from several polling stations, thus preventing them from carrying out the checks of operations they considered necessary and that in many polling stations the electoral agents prevented voters of their PDCI-RDA party from voting when they had the right to do so. The respondent State did not respond directly to these allegations but warned against politically motivated manoeuvres by certain citizens. The Court notes that Article 13 of the Charter and other international instruments guarantee the right to engage in political activity, which implies the right not only to exercise one’s right to vote but also to stand for election. Interference in any way with these rights constitutes a violation of Article13 of the Charter. In the present case, however, the respondent State does not refute the applicants’ restraints. Accordingly, there has been a violation of the right to participate in the public affairs of the State.
As regards then, to the alleged violation of the right to the sincerity of the vote (Article 13 of the Charter), the Applicants allege that numerous and serious irregularities marred the voting operations, the control of the vote, the counting of votes and the collection of minutes. Therefore, the results transmitted to the Constitutional Council by the Independent Electoral Commission were neither authentic, because they did not respect the formal requirements laid down by the regulations, nor sincere because they did not reflect the exact count of the vote. Côte d’Ivoire questions delaying tactics of the applicant politicians. The Court notes that some reports transmitted do not have holograms (stickers), measures prescribed by the regulations in force as a guarantee of security and authentication. The absence of these stickers undermines the authenticity of election minutes, which contravenes section 13 of the Charter. However, it did not accede to the applicants’ request on the issue of manifest irregularities in the vote.
Lastly, as regards the alleged violation of the right to security of the person (Article 6 of the Charter), the Applicants maintained that they had not been able to benefit from the protection of the security forces, which were otherwise due to all the candidates during the campaign. As the respondent State did not conclude on this point, the Court concluded that the applicants’ right had indeed been violated in the light of the evidence adduced.
The Court awarded the applicants XAF 3,485,000 as compensation for the damage suffered.
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.