206/97 Centre for Free Speech / Nigeria Summary of Facts 1. The Complainant alleges the unlawful arrest, detention, trial and conviction of four Nigerian journalists, by a military tribunal presided over by one Patrick Aziza. 2. The journalists were convicted for reporting stories on the alleged 1995 coup attempt in their various newspapers and magazines. The journalists are: Mr George Mba of "Tell" magazine, Mr Kunle Ajibade of "The News" magazine, Mr Ben Charles Obi of "Classique" Magazine and Mrs Chris Anyanwu of "TSM"[[/span]] Magazine. 3. The journalists were tried in secret and were not allowed access to counsel of their choice. 4. The journalists were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. 5. The convicted journalists could not appeal against their sentences because of the various decrees promulgated by the military regime, which oust the jurisdiction of the regular courts from hearing appeals on cases decided by a military tribunal. Complaint 6. The Complainant asserts that the following articles of the African Charter have been violated: Articles 6, 7 and 241 and Principle 5 × 5. Everyone shall have the right to be tried by ordinary courts or tribunals using established legal procedures. Tribunals that do not use the duly established procedures of the legal process shall not be created to displace the jurisdiction belonging to the ordinary courts or judicial tribunals. of the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary. Procedure 7. The communication is dated 14th July 1997 and the Secretariat acknowledged its receipt on 23rd September 1997. 8. Correspondences were exchanged between the Secretariat and the parties for additional information and to keep the latter informed of the procedures. Law Admissibility 9. For a communication submitted under Article 55 of the Charter to be declared admissible, it must satisfy all the conditions stipulated under Article 56 of the Charter. Such conditions must be assessed based on the circumstances of each particular case. In this case, the communication is prima facie in accordance with these requirements. The only issue that might be raised is with regard to the exhaustion of local remedies as provided for under Article 56(5) of the Charter. 10. Article 56(5) states: Communications relating to the Human and Peoples' Rights referred to in Article 55 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. 11. The jurisdiction of the courts is ousted by the Treason and Treasonable Offences (Special Military Tribunal) Decree. Applying the decisions of the Commission in communication 60/91 which concerned the Robbery and Firearms Tribunal, communication 87/93 on the Civil Disturbances Tribunal, communication 101/93 on the Legal Practitioners Decree and communication 129/94 relating to the Constitution (Suspension and Modification) Decree and the Political Parties (Dissolution) Decree, the Commission finds that local remedies in the instant communication were non-existent or ineffective. For the above reasons, 1

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