The Court considered an application from the Applicant, a convicted and imprisoned person, for the quashing of a criminal conviction and his release from prison by the Respondent State. The Court considered whether the use of visual evidence during the Applicant’s criminal trial, and the failure of the Respondent to provide free legal aid, constituted a breach of his right to a fair trial within the scope of Art 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.
The Court held that its role is not to review evidence, but to determine whether the domestic procedures fulfilled international human rights standards with regards to the use and evaluation of that evidence. The Court held that in this case, the record does not disclose any manifest error or miscarriage of justice. The Court held that while the Charter does not expressly prescribe the right to free legal assistance, free legal aid is a right intrinsic to the right to a fair trial and the right to defence in Art 7(1)(c) of the Charter. The Court held that the Respondent’s failure to provide free legal aid, therefore, violated this right. Accordingly, the Court ordered the Respondent State to take all necessary measures to remedy the violations. The Court did not grant the Applicant’s prayer to have his conviction quashed and to be released from prison.