Francis Ameyibor, GNA
Accra, Feb. 27, GNA – Judges and Senior Staffs of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice met Judges of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights to a dialogue aimed at strengthening the judicial systems of the continent at Arusha, Tanzania.
The meeting, the first of its kind on a continental scale was to enable both courts to exchange views on common matters of mutual interest.
Justice Sylvain Ore, President of the African Court based in Arusha in an address said dialogue between the ECOWAS Court and the African Court goes beyond general matters which the Continental judicial dialogue proposes in terms of complementarity.
He described the meeting as “greatest African and Judicial Human Rights System,” when welcoming the officials led by Justice Jérôme Traore President of the ECOWAS Court.
He said it was incumbent on the two bodies to formalise judicial cooperation typical of both Courts taking into consideration the recent emergence of community norms and structures which are becoming more and more regionalised.
He said the adoption of the amended 1993 ECOWAS Treaty establishing the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; the supplementary 2012 Act on sanctions; the 2002 Protocol on Good Governance; and the 2005 supplementary Protocol on the extension of the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice led to the setting up of the judicial mechanism for Human Rights’ protection in West Africa.
Justice Ore presentation’s copy made available to the Ghana News Agency in Accra said after just a decade of supervision of this new mechanism, the ECOWAS Court of Justice has become the new destination for judicial Human Rights’ protection in Africa.
He said the relevant provisions of the amended Treaty, interpreted and read alongside those of the 1991 Protocol, incorporated into Article 38 of the International Court of Justice’s Statutes, have granted universal jurisdiction to the ECOWAS Court.
Justice Ore said the African Court keenly follows the jurisprudential developments of the ECOWAS Court. “We are compelled to act accordingly since these developments makes our two establishments the most concurrent and complementary Human Rights Courts in the African continent.
“Hitherto, this could only be noticed by referring to our respective constitutive instruments; the latest jurisprudential developments being evidence of this practice”.
The African Court President said the jurisprudential and normative reciprocity of the two Courts was achieved when, on one hand, the ECOWAS Court made pronouncements on violations of the Protocol on Good Governance and, on the other hand, the African Court ruled that the African Charter on Democracy was a key Human Rights’ instrument.
Justice Ore said it was incumbent on the two courts according to law and practice, to formalise judicial cooperation. “We may, at the same time, exchange on operational and judicial levels of matters on the functioning as well as issues of law and practice in our respective institutions.
“I am elated that this visit will culminate into the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two most active Human Rights Courts in Africa. I hope and I am convinced the MOU will offer new opportunities for the reinforcement of the administration of justice at regional levels in a continent where, human rights are greatly spoken of but insufficiently protected and constantly violated”.
He reiterating that the African Court is strongly committed to strengthen its cooperation with the ECOWAS Court. “It is in this vein that we have already agreed upon a similar visit, in the month of April this year, of the African Court to the headquarters of the ECOWAS Court in Abuja.
“For both Courts, dialogue and cooperation are no longer options; they are imperative for the benefit of a just Africa and for the continent’s human development,” he said.
Other members who participated in the dialogue includes Justice Ben Kioko, Vice-President of the African Court; Justice Yusif Kaba, Vice-President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice as well as Judges of the ECOWAS Court of Justice and the African Court; and Registrars of the two Courts.