Malian singer held in France over kidnapping
Publish date: 30 March 2020
Issue Number: 866
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Malian musician Rokia Traoré has been released from a French prison after being detained since 10 March for the alleged kidnap of her daughter in a child custody dispute. According to a report in The Guardian, her freedom is dependent on her delivery to Belgian authorities, once travel restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic are lifted. Traoré was arrested under a European warrant issued by a judge in Brussels, where a court had ordered her to surrender her daughter (5) to the child’s father, Jan Goossens, who is Belgian. Until such time as she can be transferred to Belgium, Traoré will be under judicial supervision, a French criminal procedure imposed to prevent suspects from fleeing or recidivism, following a hearing in Paris on 25 March. Traoré appeared by video link. Traoré’s lawyer, Kenneth Feliho, said they would go to the French Court of Cassation – France’s highest court of appeal – and the European Court of Human Rights if necessary. He added that the case embodies a clash between European and African judicial systems. A Malian court had given Traoré custody of the child. In a statement issued from prison, Traoré said she was told this was not valid in Europe. Traoré filed complaints about Goossens in Mali, France and Belgium, which she insists have not been investigated – though later in her prison statement she claims they were a major factor in the Malian court’s decision to grant her sole custody.