Monday, April 14, 2008

Niger: Woman Sues Government Over Slavery

NIAMEY, NIGER — A woman who says she was held as a slave for 10 years took Niger's government to court on Monday for allegedly failing to implement its own laws banning slavery, the first case of its kind in the West African nation.

The case of Hadijatou Mani, 24, was heard by a regional court run by the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States because Hadijatou "believes she cannot get fair redress at any national court in Niger," said Romana Cacchioli, Africa coordinator of Anti-Slavery International.

Hadijatou, who says she was held as a sexual slave and domestic servant, is demanding about $100,000 in compensation, according to one of her lawyers, Ibrahima Kane, with the International Center for Legal Protection of Human Rights.

"We want her to be treated as a human being like everybody else," Kane said. "We want to make sure all her suffering ends, and she needs compensation from the state for not doing anything to stop it for so long."

The case is unprecedented in Niger. Decisions of the regional court are binding on member states and could set a precedent throughout the region for tougher enforcement of anti-slavery laws...


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