197/97 : Bah Ould Rabah / Mauritania Summary of Facts 1. In November 1975, four years after the death of his mother, Mr Bah Ould Rabah, a Mauritanian national, [the Complainant], and his family were forcefully expelled from their ancestral domicile by the man named Mohamed O. Bah on the grounds that the mother of the Complainant, the late Aichetou Valle, was his slave and that subsequently, the house bequeathed to her descendants and the whole estate around it became legally the property of Mohamed O. Bah, the alleged ‘owner’ of the deceased. 2. When the plaintiff approached them, the local authorities and the courts decided in favour of his opponent and the Supreme Court upheld this decision. The plaintiff wrote to the highest authorities, including the President of the Republic, to contest this decision which he qualifies as “flagrant support of the Government to the illegal institution of slavery”. To date, however, he has received no reply. Complaint 3. The communication alleges violation of Articles 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 11 of the African Charter. Procedure th 4. Communication 197/97 is dated 11 April 1997. st 5. The African Commission assumed jurisdiction in the case during its 21 Ordinary Session held in Nouakchott, Mauritania, in April 1997. th 6. On 7 July 1997, a Note Verbale of notification was sent to the government concerned urging it to reply to the allegations contained in the communication. th 7. On 7 July 1997, the Complainant was informed of the decision of seizure. nd 8. During the 22 Ordinary Session, the [African] Commission deferred any decision on this communication pending the reception of the comments from the Government of Mauritania on the report of the mission undertaken to that country. 9. The African Commission continued the process of exchanging information between the parties. th 10. The African Commission considered this communication at its 35 Ordinary Session held in Banjul, The Gambia and decided to deliver its decision on the merits. Law Admissibility 11. Article 56.5 of the African Charter requires that communications received within the context of the provisions of Article 55should be submitted “after exhaustion of all local remedies, if they exist, unless it is clear to the Commission that this procedure is being unduly prolonged”. 12. In the case under consideration, the plaintiff filed court decisions attesting that he used and exhausted the remedies before the competent national courts with a view to obtaining compensation for the alleged violation of his rights. 13. The complainant furnished the African Commission with the judgement of the Boutilimitt District th th Court of 26 December 1998, the decision of the Rosso Regional Court if [sic] 11 March 1990 and th the decision of the Supreme Court of Mauritania in Nouakchott of 11 November 1990. 14. The African Commission contacted the Respondent State demanding for [sic] information with respect to exhaustion of local remedies and the Respondent State responded by stating that local remedies had been exhausted. 15. It is therefore unquestionable that the Complainant had met the provisions of Article 56.5 of the African Charter.

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