African Court ruling: Mali’s child marriage laws violate human rights

Many thanks to George Sakyi Asumadu, an LL.M student in Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Africa at the Centre for Human Rights in the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Law, for summarizing and commenting on the significance of this landmark decision on age of marriage, gender discrimination, and violations of rights through customary law. We are pleased to excerpt this overview of the Court ruling and provide links to the full Case C.

APDF & IHRDA v Republic of Mali (Association pour le Progrés et la Défense des Droits des Femmes Maliennes (APDF) and The Institute For Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) v. Republic Of Mali), Application No. 046/2016, African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. (2018)  Decision of May 11, 2018  PDF.  Decision online . Case Comment by George Sakyi Asumadu.

COURT HOLDING: The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (The Court) held that it had jurisdiction over the case, since Mali had ratified the treaties under contention. The case was also admissible before it because it conformed with Article 6(2) of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and Rule 40(6) of the Court.

 The Court further held that the Persons and Family Code  (Family Code)  violated Articles 1(3), 2, 3, 4 and 21  of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children (Children’s African Charter); Articles 2(2), 6(a) and (b), and 21(2) of the  Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa  (Maputo Protocol); and  Articles 5(a), 16(a) and (b) of The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women  (CEDAW) which the state has ratified. These violations were in relation to child marriage, consent to marriage, discriminatory inheritance and marriage practices. The Court held Mali culpable of these violations, proposing amendments and other revisions to the Family Code. [. . . ]

Read more: APDF & IHRDA v Republic of Mali, 2018: Case Comment by George Sakyi Asumadu.
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See also: Domestic Decisions on child marriage, summarized in Legal Grounds III: Reproductive and Sexual Rights in Sub-Saharan African Courts (Pretoria: Pretoria University Law Press, 2017)  
Online edition with updates.     Earlier volumes online.

Mudzuru & Another v Ministry of Justice, Legal & Parliamentary Affairs (N.O.) & Others (Const. Application No. 79/14) [2015] ZWCC 12 (20 January 2016);  [Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe outlawed child marriage under 18 years old.]  Decision online

Nvumeleni Jezile v The State and 7 Others [2015], High Court Case No. A 127/2014 (High Court of South Africa, Western Cape Division, Cape Town).  [Customary marriage practices are not justification for abduction and rape of a girl of 14.]   Decision onlineDecision PDF.

Rebeca Z. Gyumi v The Attorney General,
Miscellaneous Civil Cause No. 5 of 2016, High Court of Tanzania.  Date of Judgment: 8/7/2016,  [Third-party consent to marriage of girls under 18 is unconstitutional] Decision online

Child Marriage: Legal and Socio-Cultural Aspects” thematic highlight by Godfrey Kangaude.
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Compiled by: the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at utoronto.ca.   See Program website for our PublicationsInformation resources, and Reprohealthlaw Commentaries SeriesTO JOIN THE REPROHEALTHLAW BLOG: enter your email address in the upper right corner of our blog, then check your email to confirm the subscription.  

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