- Darlan Daniele was honored with the International Woman of Courage Award.
- The US government recognized her efforts to protect the constitution.
The former Head of the Constitutional Court in the Central African Republic, Daniele Darlan has gained the recognition of the United States Government. She was recently honored with the International Woman of Courage award by the US government for her efforts toward the protection of the constitution. She assumed the position of the president of the Constitutional Court from 2017 to 2022 in a country where armed groups were in control and committed human rights abuses with indemnity. Daniele was nicknamed the “Woman of Iron”, for her approach to constitutional matters.
Daniele is the first woman to have served as the Vice-President of the Constitutional Court since to have served as the Vice-President of the Constitutional Court from 2013 after which she was elected president in 2017. In June 2020, during her tenure as the constitutional court president, she disapproved revisions of the constitution proposed by the National Assembly and was supported by President Faustin-Archange Touadera which could allow him to remain in power and also delayed the electoral process.
However, in 2021, she received a visit from Russian diplomats who sought the changing the country’s constitution to enable Touadera to remain. She said, “I warned them that our instability stemmed from presidents wanting to make their rule eternal”. This played out in 2015 when Central Africans held a national dialogue saying “no” to perpetual presidency and set out term limits in the 2016 constitution reforms.
Last year, Daniele ruled out plans to amend the constitution that was found to be unconstitutional. Following her decision, groups of young men gathered in front of her office and demanded that she be fired. It was reported that some of these individuals acknowledged receiving payment from young organizations that supported the ruling party in order to attend the demonstrations and they also claimed were not particularly interested in the court’s decision. The government attempted to forcibly remove her from her position as the president of the Court on the grounds that Daniele posed a threat.
In January, the country had a new president, and the constitutional court declared the decision to retire Darlan forcibly from the court was unconstitutional. However, Darlan has already announced she did not plan to return to the court as the court ruled there was nothing to be done. This has sparked a legal crisis that keeps questioning the authority of a court that ought to be seen as the protector of the nation’s constitution.
The honor given to Darlan is merited, she has displayed genuine bravery and keeps doing so. Although, she has not been reinstated and the court she presided over has opened the door to altering the constitution.