complained of pending the outcome of the consideration of the complaint before the [African] Commission. st nd th 11. At its 31 Ordinary Session held from 2 to 16 May 2002 in Pretoria, South Africa, the African Commission considered the complaint and decided to be seized thereof. th 12. On 20 May 2002, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Eritrea responded to the [African] Commission appeal and confirming to the latter that the alleged victims on whose behalf the complaint was filed had their quarters in appropriate government facilities, had not been ill-treated, have had continued access to medical services and that the government was making every effort to bring them before an appropriate court of law as early as possible. th 13. On 28 May 2002, the Secretariat wrote to the Complainants and the Respondent State of the [African] Commission’s decision to be seized of the matter and requested them to forward their nd submissions on admissibility before the 32 Ordinary Session of the [African] Commission. 14. The Secretariat of the African Commission forwarded the Ministry’s response to the Chairperson th th of the African Commission on 7 June 2002 and to the Complainants on 18 June 2002. th 15. On 25 October 2002, the African Commission wrote, by way of follow up on its urgent appeal in the matter, to the Respondent State reminding it that it was the responsibility of the Member State’s General Prosecutor to bring the accused before a competent court of law in accordance with the rules guaranteeing fair trial under relevant national and international instruments. 16. The two parties made submissions on admissibility. rd th th 17. At its 33 Ordinary Session held from 15 to 29 May 2003, in Niamey, Niger, the African Commission heard oral submissions from both parties to the communication and decided to declare the communication admissible. th 18. On 10 June 2003, the Secretariat of the African Commission wrote informing the parties to the communication of the African Commission’s decision and requested them to forward their submissions on the merits of the communication within 3 months. th 19. The Chairperson of the African Commission forwarded a letter dated 10 June 2003 appealing to His Excellency the President of Eritrea to intervene in this matter and urge the authorities holding the 11 individuals to release them or bring them before the courts in Eritrea. th th th 20. At its 34 Ordinary Session, held from 6 to 20 November 2003 in Banjul, The Gambia, the African Commission considered the communication and delivered its decision on the merits. Law Admissibility 21. The admissibility of communications brought pursuant to Article 55 of the African Charter is governed by the conditions stipulated in Article 56 of the African Charter. This article lays down seven (7) conditions, which must generally be fulfilled by a Complainant for a communication to be declared admissible. 22. At issue in the present communication is whether the complainants have pursued and exhausted the domestic legal remedies of Eritrea, and if not, whether the exception to the exhaustion of domestic remedies rule should apply. This issue of exhaustion of domestic remedies is governed by Article 56.5 of the African Charter and it provides: “Communications … received by the Commission shall be considered if they are sent after exhausting local remedies, if any unless it is obvious that this procedure is unduly prolonged.” 23. The rule requiring exhaustion of local remedies has been applied by international adjudicating bodies and is premised on the principle that the Respondent State must first have an opportunity to redress by its own means within the framework of its own domestic legal system, the wrong alleged to have been done to the individual. 24. In determining whether this communication should be declared admissible or otherwise, the African Commission must have regard to the arguments put forward by the Complainants and the Respondent State.

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