ECOWAS, African Union courts sign pact on rights protection

March 1, 2018 6:11 pm
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The agreement was reached on Thursday when a six-member delegation of the ECOWAS Court of Justice concluded a five-day working tour at the AfCHPR in Arusha, Tanzania/COURTESY AU

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 1 – The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice and African Union’s (AU) African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) have agreed to strengthen ties with a view of improving protection of human rights in the continent.

The agreement was reached on Thursday when a six-member delegation of the ECOWAS Court of Justice concluded a five-day working tour at the AfCHPR in Arusha, Tanzania.

In a Memorandum of Understating which took effect on March 1, the two courts committed to enhancing partnership programmes.

“In particular, there was a presentation of the two courts and discussions around the human rights jurisprudence of both Courts; the overlapping jurisdictions and the mechanisms put in place for the implementation of their decisions,” a joint communiqué dispatched by the two courts read.

“Among the areas identified for cooperation are staff exchanges, reciprocal representation, knowledge and information sharing, research and capacity building within the framework of the constitutive instruments of both courts,” the communiqué further read.

Further, the courts agreed to “jointly mobilize resources for the execution of joint projects” in a bid to operationalize their commitment in the areas of capacity building and training.

The ECOWAS Court of Justice delegation led by its President, Hon. Justice Jérôme Traoré, also visited two international tribunals based in Arusha namely; the East African Court of Justice (EAC-CJ) and the United Nations-Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (UN-MICT).

Also accompanying Justice Jérôme Traoré were Justice Yusif Kaba (Vice-President), Justice Mahalmadane Heméye Founé (Dean of Judges), Hon Justice Yaya Boiro, Hon Justice Maria Do Ceu Silva Monteiro, Justice Chijioke Friday Nwoke and Justice Alioune Sall.

ECOWAS Court of Justice’s registry staff Tony Maidoh Anene (Chief Register), Athanase Atannon (Deputy Register), Mr William Towah (Director of Finance and Administration), Dr Ousmane Diallo (Director of Documentation and Research), Eric Kwaovi Akuete (Chief of Protocol) and Sunny Ugoh (Chief of Communication Division) were also part of the team.

The court, founded in 1991 following the adoption of a Protocol on a community court by fifteen West African nations forming the ECOWAS economic block, is one among several regional courts in the continent.

In the EAC economic block, the EAC-CJ deals primarily with disputes arising from the interpretation and application of the EAC Treaty.

It, however, can hear a dispute between member states if such a dispute is submitted to the court under a mutual agreement.

Regional courts have however remained, at least in the eyes of the masses, largely hands-off matters with most member states hardly opting to submit matters before them.

There has for instance been no instance where diplomatic and trade tiffs between member countries have taken to regional courts.

In the most prominent case of Kenya and Tanzania where recently the latter has been accused of being hostile to the former on matters cross-border trade, Kenya has often engaged diplomatic channels with little or no results.

Just recently, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Tanzanian counterpart John Magufuli instructed their respective ministers to engage in a bid to resolve simmering disputes occasioned by the seizing and burning of day-old Kenyan chicks being imported to Tanzania.

“We have small issues relating to businesses and traders between Kenya and Tanzania. We want Kenya and Tanzania ministers to meet urgently and resolve these issues,” President Magufuli said following a recent meeting with President Kenyatta at Lake Victoria resort, Munyonyo, on the outskirts of Kampala.

“These are small matters that should be resolved quickly. As leaders, we don’t have a problem. We are okay,” he after engaging with Kenyatta on the sidelines of the EAC Heads of States summit last weekend.

In a brief comment, President Kenyatta said the constant trade disputes required to be resolved swiftly so that the economies of the two nations can continue to thrive.

“These small matters require urgent attention,” he said.

Kenya during the summit appointed former Constitutional Implementation Committee Chairperson, Charles Nyachae, to the EAC-CJ.

Nyachae’s tenure at the regional court will commence on July 1.

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