United Nations Human Rights Committee: Karamo Fofana v. the Republic of Ecuador

The clinic, in conjunction with our in-country counterpart, Asylum Access Ecuador, submitted its first case before the United Nations Human Rights Committee on behalf of Mr. Karamo Fofana, a refugee who was wrongfully detained and subsequently denied full redress by the Republic of Ecuador.

Mr. Fofana escaped his birth country, Guinea, where his family was executed in a large massacre of political dissidents. With authorities looking for him as well, Mr. Fofana fled the country using a false passport. Upon arrival in Ecuador in January of 2010, Mr. Fofana was detained for travelling on a false passport, notwithstanding the fact that the 1951 Refugee Convention to which Ecuador is a State party provides that penalties cannot be imposed on refugees who enter a country by illegal means if they come from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened. He was charged, convicted and subsequently incarcerated for using a false passport. Mr. Fofana’s refugee status was finally recognized in October of 2010 and in November, he was released from prison. Mr. Fofana’s claim for compensation for his unlawful detention has been denied and all subsequent reviewing courts in Ecuador have affirmed the lower court’s decision, including the Supreme Court.

Our Communication to the UN Human Rights Committee alleges violations of Article 9 (Right to personal liberty) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Ecuador has been a signatory since 1969. More specifically, the communication alleges wrongful and arbitrary detention, failure to provide adequate and effective remedies, and violation of the right to compensation for such detention. The case uniquely examines the intersection of International Refugee and International Human Rights law and how these standards affect the human rights obligations of States towards refugee populations within its jurisdiction.

The Communication, submitted in February 2012 in English, is currently pending before the UN Human Rights Committee.