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Former slave sues Niger government in West Africa regional court

[JURIST] A former Nigerien slave appeared before the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) [official websites] Monday, alleging that the government of Niger failed to fully enforce [Antislavery International press release, PDF] a 2003 law criminalizing the ownership of slaves. Hadijatou Mani Koraou, sold into slavery at the age of 12 in 1996, accuses the Nigerien government of continuing to enforce Niger's customary law, which says that a former slave girl is de facto married to her former master once she is released. Hadijatou was "freed" by her slave owner in 2005, but the former master has argued that she remained his wife. The trial is expected to last five days.

Slavery is officially prohibited by Niger's 1999 Constitution [PDF text, in French] and Penal Code. The Community Court of Justice of ECOWAS was established in 1991 and is currently located in Lagos, Nigeria. BBC News has more.

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