ICJ orders DRC to compensate Guinea for false detention of businessman

[JURIST] On Tuesday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] ordered the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) [BBC backgrounder] to pay an undetermined amount to Guinea for the 1988 arbitrary imprisonment of a Guinean businessman. The tribunal found [judgment, PDF] that the DRC violated Articles 6 and 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights [text] as well as Articles 9 and 13 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [text] by the arrest, two month imprisonment, and expulsion of Ahmadou Sadio Diallo [ICJ case materials]. The ICJ did not find the DRC in violation of any international law when it seized the two companies, Africom-Zaire and Africontainers-Zaire, that Diallo founded in the DRC and prevented him from continuing business with them, however the court did find that his detention and expulsion were contrary to law, stating:

The DRC has failed to produce a single document or any other form of evidence to prove that Mr. Diallo was notified of the expulsion decree at the time of his arrest on 5 November 1995, or that he was in some way informed, at that time, of the reason for his arrest. Although the expulsion decree itself did not give specific reasons, as pointed out above, the notification of this decree at the time of Mr. Diallo's arrest would have informed him sufficiently of the reasons for that arrest for the purposes of Article 9, paragraph 2, since it would have indicated to Mr. Diallo that he had been arrested for the purpose of an expulsion procedure and would have allowed him, if necessary, to take the appropriate steps to challenge the lawfulness of the decree. However, no information of this kind was provided to him; the DRC, which should be in a position to prove the date on which Mr. Diallo was notified of the decree, has presented no evidence to that effect.
Earlier in the proceedings, Guinea demanded a payment of 36 billion pounds [BBC news]. The DRC has six months to come to a settlement with Guinea, or the ICJ will determine a settlement amount.

Diallo was a Guinean citizen living in the DRC, then known as Zaire, where he established the import-export companies Africom-Zaire and Africontainers-Zaire, which dealt with the containerized transport of goods. After attempting to to collect on debts from business partners Zaire Shell, Zaire Mobil, Zaire Fina and Gecamines, Diallo was arrested and imprisoned, and then released after two months, in 1988. After seizing several properties of Diallo, the Zairean Prime Minister issued an expulsion decree against him in 1995, when he returned to Guinea. Guinea brought suit [application, in French, PDF] against the DRC in 1998, contending that Diallo was "unlawfully imprisoned by the authorities of that State" and "divested from his important investments, companies, bank accounts, movable and immovable properties, then expelled." The DRC argued [press release, PDF] that since it was no longer the nation of Zaire, it could not be held liable to what had occurred under that regime, and also claimed that Diallo had not exhausted all local remedies.

 

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