ECOWAS Court of Justice receives over 380 cases

The Economic Community of West Africa States(ECOWAS)Court of Justice, since its inception in 2001, has received 382 cases from mostly individuals and institutions.

Out of that, the Court gave judgment on 190 cases, ruled on 106 cases, and took decision on 18 cases for review.

The Chief Registrar of the Court, Tony Anene Maidoh disclosed at the opening of the sensitization of Stakeholders’ forum in Accra.

The day’s forum marks the beginning of a four-day sensitization campaign in Ghana by the Court.

It aims to strengthen citizens’ knowledge on their human rights and how to seek redress at the Court.

Mr Maidoh explained that filing of cases at the Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS, was free of charge and that the only cost borne by the litigants was on logistics.

The Court was established pursuant to the provisions of Article 15 of the Revised Treaty of ECOWAS and listed in Article 6 as one of the Institutions of the Community.

Although the Protocol on the Court was adopted in 1991, the Court only became operational in 2001 following the appointment and swearing in of its Pioneer Members.

The Protocol provides that, the Court shall be composed of independent Judges selected and appointed by the Authority of Heads of States and Government from nationals of Member States who are persons of high moral character and possess the qualification required in their respective countries for appointment to the highest judicial office or are jurisconsult of recognized competence in International Law.

It further provides that the Court shall consist of seven Members who shall elect a President and Vice President from among their number.

Justice Edward Amoako Asante, President of the Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS, said it was regrettable that the number of Judges of the Court was recently reduced from seven to five.

He said the mandate of the Court was to resolve disputes between Member States or institutions of the Community, relating to the interpretation and application of the Treaty and the annexed Protocol and Conventions, while Article 10 therefore, gave the Court the competence to give Advisory Opinion.

He said, however, there was a paradigm shift in the mandate of the Court in 2005, following the adoption of the Supplementary Protocol, which amended the initial Protocol on the Court.

“The Supplementary Protocol expanded the jurisdiction and invariably the mandate of the Court,” he said.

The current mandate of the ECOWAS Court of Justice can be categorized as follows; Mandate as a Community Court, as ECOWAS Public Service Court, as a Human Rights Court and as an Arbitration Tribunal”.

He said the human rights jurisdiction of the Court was very fluid and indeterminate, which had presented the Court a great opportunity to define and delimit the scope and legal parameters of its human rights mandate in its own image.

“The Court has given many decisions establishing the extent, scope and legal boundaries of its human rights mandate.

“By virtue of Article 4(g) of the Revised Treaty and the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, the Court applies the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights,” he said.

Director of Africa and Regional Integration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Harold A. Agyeman, said for integration to succeed, there ought to be equitable burden- sharing through the fulfillment of obligations incumbent on Member States.

Source: GNA

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