Tuesday, December 5, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Ivory Coast’s Ex-First Lady Can’t Nix Sanction

(CN) - EU legislators properly censured the wife of Ivory Coast's former president after her election protest nearly incited a riot, the Court of Justice ruled.

The EU blacklisted Nadiany Bamba and froze her assets after determining that she had directed a subversive group called Cyclone. The second wife of ousted president Laurent Gbagbo, Bamba and the group also publish Le Temps, a newspaper that obstructs "the peace and reconciliation processes through public incitement of hatred and violence and through participation in disinformation campaigns in connection with the 2010 presidential election," according to files from the Council of the European Union.

Bamba had previously persuaded the General Court to annul the asset freeze by arguing that the council had improperly failed to inform her of its action.

The General Court found that lawmakers did not show Bamba had obstructed the process of peace and reconciliation in the war-torn Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivoire).

But Europe's highest court ruled Thursday that the lawmakers made their case against Bamba.

"As the council has argued, Ms Bamba could not reasonably have been unaware that, by alluding, in the contested acts, to her position as director of the group which publishes the newspaper Le Temps, the council intended to highlight the power to influence and the responsibility which might be supposed to result from that position as regards the editorial line of that newspaper and the content of press campaigns allegedly run by that newspaper during the Ivorian post electoral crisis," the decision states. "Thus, from those notes, Ms Bamba was placed in a position effectively to dispute the merits of the contested acts. In the light of those notes, it was possible for her, if appropriate, to dispute the truth of the claims made in the contested acts, in particular, by denying her position as director of the group which publishes the newspaper Le Temps or the existence of the campaigns or by denying any responsibility in connection with those campaigns, or by disputing the relevance of all or any of those facts or their classification as obstructions to the process of peace and reconciliation in Côte d'Ivoire capable of justifying the use of restrictive measures against her."

The Luxembourg court also rejected Bamba's claim that loopholes in reconsideration protocols prevented her from contesting council action.

"As the council has observed, the present case is thus not connected either with a refusal on its part to review its initial decision to subject Ms Bamba to restrictive measures nor to a decision by that institution to keep her on those lists after a review," the ruling states. "Accordingly, those arguments are irrelevant."

While Bamba does not dispute the EU's need to freeze the assets of political threats, her claims that the asset freeze restricted her ability to defend herself held little water with the court.

"Regarding the possibility of the right of access to the council's records relating to the restrictive measures taken against Ms Bamba, it is sufficient, in the present case, to note that she does not claim to have requested that the council grant her such access," the decision states.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.