A human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has said that Nigerian victims of slavery have no court to sue Libya for the violation of their rights.
Falana said in a statement on Sunday that the victims would have been able to approach the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights sitting in Arusha, Tanzania, but had been deprived access to the only international court due to the Nigerian government’s failure to make a declaration accepting the court’s jurisdiction.
He stated that the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States, which Nigeria had accepted its jurisdiction was only limited to West African states.
He stated, “Since the jurisdiction of the community court is limited to the West African sub-region, Nigerians whose rights are breached in other African countries would have been able to seek redress in the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights sitting in Arusha, Tanzania.
“But that is not possible as the Federal Government has refused to make a declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the Court in line with Article 34(6) of the Protocol establishing the African Court which provides that ‘At the time of the ratification of this Protocol or any time thereafter the State shall make a declaration accepting the competence of the court to receive petitions under Article 5(3) of this Protocol.
“‘The court shall not receive any petition under Article 5(3) involving a state party which has not made such a declaration.’”
He said although, Libya too had not accepted the jurisdictional competence of the African Court, “the victims of the illegal slave trade in that country could have submitted a petition to the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights and thereafter apply that the communication be referred to the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights for judicial determination.”
He added, ”But since Nigeria has not facilitated access to the African Court, the victims of the slave trade in Libya have been left without any legal remedy whatsoever.
“In other words, the infringement of the human rights of the victims to dignity and freedom from discrimination guaranteed by articles 2 and 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights cannot be challenged in the African Court.”
He demanded that the Federal Government compensated the victims and accepted the African Court’s jurisdiction before December 31, 2017 otherwise he would sue the FG.