Mon 27 Oct, 2008
Tags: Modern slavery, Niger, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The court ruled that Niger failed to enforce its anti-slavery laws with respect to a young woman, Hadijatou Mani, who was sold into slavery there at the age of 12, and awarded her about $19,000 in damages.
Despite having anti-slavery laws, Niger has a long history of internal slavery, particularly among nomadic tribes in remote regions, which have been enslaving those of other ethnic groups for centuries. Today, roughly 43,000 of Niger’s citizens are believed to be enslaved, and this ruling potentially impacts all of them.
Ms. Mani was born into a traditional class of slaves, forced to work in her master’s fields and, she says, repeatedly raped by him. After a decade, when she sought freedom under Niger’s laws, her former master successfully claimed that she had been married to him, causing her to be sentenced to six months in jail for bigamy.
ECOWAS is a regional institution comprised of 15 West African nations and founded in 1975 to promote economic integration among its members. The Community Court of Justice was established in 1991 to issue binding settlements of disputes within the community over the community’s treaty provisions and fundamental human rights (as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).