ECOWAS court passes first judgment on the Maputo Protocol in the Case of 4 Women vs. Nigeria

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court passed the first judgement in the case of four women who were abducted and assaulted sexually, physically, verbally and unlawfully detained at different times between January 2011 and March 2013 at the hands of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) and other government agencies, such as the police and the military. They were arrested and accused of being prostitutes simply on the grounds that they were found on the streets at night. The Court held that these arrests to be unlawful and in violation of the freedom of liberty, noting that branding women as prostitutes constituted verbal abuse and violated their right to dignity. The Court found that there were multiple violations of articles of regional and international treaty law – the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol), the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention against Torture (CAT); and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This is the first time an international court has pronounced on violations of the Maputo Protocol.