ECOWAS: ECOWAS Community Court Judges call for amendment of rules of procedure

Owerri, Nigeria (PANA) - Judges of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice have called for the amendment of the Court’s Rules of Procedure to take cognizance of its expanded mandate relating to the protection of the human rights of community citizens.

“The existing rules were developed for the period when the court served as an inter-state court and could only deal with cases relating to the interpretation of community texts and when only Member States and community institutions had access to the Court,” the judges said on Monday at the end of their fourth retreat in Owerri, the capital of Nigeria’s South East Imo State.

The mandate of the 14-year old court was expanded in 2005, allowing it to deal with human rights violations of community citizens even without exhausting local remedies in their Member States.

The judges also called for the expedited development of the Court’s four-year strategic plan (2016-2020) which would provide a framework for some of the activities to be implemented over the period in response to identified challenges to improve the effectiveness of the Court in the discharge of its mandate.

In order to familiarise the judges with the three legal traditions in the region, the judges suggested that mixed panels reflecting the three linguistic groups in the region should handle cases before the court. They also recommended that the Court be equipped with the requisite human and financial resources to discharge its mandate.

They urged the Court’s registry to draw up an annual programme delineating the period for the hearing of cases and those for dealing with administrative issues while the Court’s division responsible for research should prepare an index of cases handled by the court.

The two-day retreat enabled the seven judges to discuss the various issues that impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of the court.

In remarks at the closing, the President of the Court, Honourable Justice Maria Do Ceu Montero, pledged the commitment of the Court to the “uncompromising defence of the human rights of community citizens”.

She said that the current judges have begun a process of reform of the court in order to resolve identified challenges and make it more effective in discharging its mandate which includes the interpretation of community texts and the defence of the human rights of the citizens of the community.

“I urge my colleagues to continue to demonstrate the team spirit that is required for the excellent work expected of the court while counting on the cooperation of staff,” she added
-0- PANA VAO 7Juky2015

07 july 2015 13:42:48




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