By: William Krueger
Impunity Watch Staff Writer
ARUSHA, Tanzania – On February 20, 2018, Yacouba Traore filed an application before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights against the Republic of Mali alleging a violation of his rights to “respect for life and physical and moral integrity” and “work under fair and satisfactory conditions” as granted to citizens under the jurisdiction of the Court in section 4 and Article 15 of the Charter respectively.
The allegations stem from what Traore alleges was an unfair dismissal on August 31, 2012, from his position as a Chief Chemist with ANALAB Exploitation, a company that is a member of the ALS Mali SARL Laboratory Group. Traore stated that he was not classified in a category that responded to his profession and was underpaid for his work. Traore made claims to be reclassified but was met with retribution, one such act being sent to work in Bamako for training. While Traore worked in Bamako he continued to face acts of retribution cumulating in being summoned before a disciplinary board, being laid off, and having his work obstructed by coworkers at the employer’s request.
Traore first attended the Bamako Labour Court as he alleged that his dismissal violated Article L 277 of the Labour Code where his position required that an employer seek authorization from the Regional Director of Labor before dismissing him. The Bamako Labour Court ruled that his dismissal was unlawful on January 7, 2013, but saw no further action taken against his employer. The case would rise up to the Supreme Court of the Republic of Mali who would remand the case to the Bamako Court of Appeals on the basis there was a failure to recognize Traore’s rights. Traore had also filed a complaint with the Bamako Public Prosecutor on February 22, 2017, alleging forgery by the former National Director of Labour, the former Regional Director of Labour in Bamako, and an employee of a Bamako labor service who he believes was involved in his dismissal from ANALAB Exploitation. However, the Public Prosecutor of Bamako dismissed these complaints as the office believed there had been no violation of criminal law. Traore requested that he receive reimbursement for contributions to social security, payment of eighty million CFA francs in damages in accordance with a letter filed with the Bamako Labour Court, the remaining eight million CFA francs of a housing bonus, reimbursement of medical costs stemming from treatment of his spouse and children, payment of one million CFA francs for overtime, and the issuance of a work certificate. The Republic of Mali requested the Court declare the Application as inadmissible and baseless and for Traore to pay his own court costs.
The Republic of Mali objected to Traore’s application on the basis that Traore had failed to exhaust local remedies before filing with the Court. The Republic of Mali argued that Traore failed to produce any evidence illustrating his exhaustion of local remedies, having only provided copies of decisions. Upon investigation, the Court found that the Supreme Court of the Republic of Mali overturned a judgment on September 12, 2017, and referred it back to the Bamako Court of Appeals which led to his win in Bamako Labour Court. However, Traore never saw action taken against his employer because he had filed his application well before the case was decided in a local remedy. Thus, the Court had found that Traore’s application did not comply with Article 56 of the Charter and Rule 40.
Specifically, Traore’s application failed to comply with Article 56.5 and Rule 40.5 as both require an applicant to only file after an “exhaustion” of local remedies. In a unanimous decision, Traore’s application was found inadmissible and was dismissed.
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