ECOWAS: ECOWAS Court, UNHCR sign pact on rights of refugees

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice (ECCJ) and the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) have signed an agreement to cooperate in improving the protection of the rights of refugees, asylum-seekers, returnees, IDPs, stateless persons and those at risk of statelessness in West Africa, the Court said Wednesday.

It said, in a statement made available to PANA here, that the pact was signed here Wednesday by the President of the Court, Hon. Justice Maria de Ceu Silva Monteiro, and Madame Angele Dikongue-Atangana, the Special Representative of the UNHCR to Nigeria and ECOWAS.

Activities to be implemented under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) are broadly in the areas of training and capacity building for judges and staff of Court and the UNHCR, advice on cases before the Court and issues of mutual interest as well as information sharing.

The MOU, to be implemented over three years ( 2015-2107)  will also facilitate their collaboration in promoting the proper interpretation and application of relevant international, regional and national legal and policy instruments relating to the protection of the rights of these vulnerable persons.

Specifically, both parties will jointly develop the framework for the training of judges and staff of the Court on international and regional law relating to refugees, stateless persons and internally displaced persons (IDPs) that responds to the needs of the Court with the support of the UNHCR`S Global Learning Centre (GLC) where necessary.

Similarly, the Court will develop and conduct training for UNHCR staff on its mandate, jurisprudence and procedures tailored to the needs of the UNHCR under the MOU, an offshoot of a 2001 MOU signed between ECOWAS and the UNHCR for multi-sectoral cooperation in areas of mutual interest.

Also, lawyers from the region who may bring cases before the Court on behalf of refugees, asylum-seekers, stateless person’s and IDPS will be trained under a joint programme to be facilitated by the two parties.  The training will focus on its mandate, jurisprudence, procedures, and available resources for case preparation.

Hon. Justice Monteiro hailed the framework as ''an exceptionally important document that impacts not only on humanity and the dignity of the citizens of the region but also on regional peace and security.''

''While the rights of refugees, asylum seekers returnees, internally displaced persons have been recognized and respected as human rights, the treatment of such persons, particularly stateless persons, violates community texts and remain an obstacle to the attainment of the community’s vision 2020 for an ECOWAS of people,'' she said in remarks prior to the signing.

For her part, Mrs Dikongue-Atangana said the 2011 framework signed with the ECOWAS Commission had enable both organizations to develop durable solutions in the areas of refugee protection; free movement and right of residence for asylum seekers and refugees; promote peace and security; improve early warning; the asylum-migration nexus; and ensure capacity building for humanitarian emergency preparedness and response.
-0- PANA SEG 17June2017

17 june 2015 17:48:31




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