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ECOWAS yields to Parliament’s call, wades into rights abuse in North Africa

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Following the call by its Parliament, ECOWAS has said that it would investigate alleged rights abuse of West Africans
in Northern Africa.

President of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel Alain de Souza, disclosed this while presenting the state of the
Community to the 2nd Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament.

Following his presentation, Members of Parliament sought to know what the Commission was doing about rights
abuses against citizens of Member States who were in Libya and other parts of North Africa. They insisted that
the rights abuses must not be left lying low and as such must be investigated and tackled.

Some Members of Parliament also expressed concerns over the requests made by Tunisia for observer status
within the ECOWAS and Morocco to be a Member State of ECOWAS, in spite of reported abuse against West African
migrants in those countries.

In his response, De-Souza who was represented by Vice President, Edward Singhatey, said that judicial enquiries
will be initiated by ECOWAS to ensure that perpetrators of acts of abuse were brought to justice.

“The problem is that at this point in time, we do not have anything official from Morocco or Tunisia. We hear
about it but there is no proper or thorough investigation and there is nothing documented. With regard to their
inclusion in ECOWAS, they will be bound to ensure that they look after our citizens within their shores; but at the
end of the day, there is no guarantee with regards to that. Through engagement we will be able to put our interests
forward to ensure that these states know that we do not take likely the maltreatment of any of our community
citizens and what is happening across North Africa right now is unacceptable”, Singhatey responded.

He called on all Member States to be relentless in condemning the maltreatment of African citizens in Libya adding
that the bloc had commenced the assessment of the situation and called for the assistance of the international
community to repatriate and reintegrate citizens.

“We do not know how many exactly of our youths are in Libya or where all of them are because we understand
that some of them are being held in different detention centers. We do not have enough funds to go to Libya and
bring them, so we have written to the International Organization for Migration for immediate and urgent assistance.
We are still trying to stop the tide of youths flowing northwards; we have to keep them (youths) by giving
them reasons to stay and find decent living for themselves. But if we continue this trend with very little funds,
there is also very little we can do. We are constantly engaging our donors to try to immediately do something for
us”, he added.

He further said that the ongoing European Union-African Union Summit in Abidjan will also help in addressing the
challenges of illegal youth migration and terrorism.


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