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ECOWAS Court rules against Sierra Leone

…as ex-SNA workers demand Le18bn

December 16, 2015 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court has refused to grant a preliminary objection by the government of Sierra Leone in restraining the court from hearing the matter of Khajidatu Bangura and 180 retrenched workers at the defunct Sierra National Airlines (SNA), who had filed a case against the government for payment of their pensions and gratuities, totaling Le18 billion.

Briefing journalists on the current status of the case at his Waterloo Street Chambers yesterday, Maurice R. Garber, lawyer representing the 180 retrenched workers, said they have two matters in court: one in the Fast Track Commercial Court of Sierra Leone which commenced in June 2012, and the other in the ECOWAS Court which commenced in July 2013, against the government of Sierra Leone for the pensions and gratuities of the 180 former SNA workers.

Garber said the government is represented at the EOWAS Court by the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, adding that the solicitor representing the Attorney General’s office had applied before the ECOWAS Court that the court should not hear the matter because it is already before the High Court of Sierra Leone, but that the ECOWAS Court ruled against the government and adjourned until February 2016 for hearing on the matter.

He said before the matter was taken to the ECOWAS Court they had engaged the government to negotiate an amicable solution to the case, but nothing happened, while the matter had been slow in the Fast Track Commercial Court of Sierra Leone.

He disclosed that 45 of the 180 former workers have already died while the matter is still pending in court, adding that when they called for negotiation the government offered to pay Le6 billion out of Le18 billion, which they turned down and decided to continue with the matter in court.

The ECOWAS Court of Justice is the judicial organ of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and is charged with resolving disputes related to the Community’s treaty, protocols and conventions. The Court has competence to hear individual complaints of alleged human rights violations.

It was founded on May 28, 1975 under the Treaty of Lagos for the purpose of promoting economic integration across the region, comprising 15 West African countries.

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