ECOWAS: Mandate of Community Court may be expanded to cover genocide, crimes against humanity

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - The regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is considering the possibility of enlarging the mandate of its regional court to enable it handle cases relating to the massive violation of human rights such as genocide and crimes against humanity, a judge of the Court said in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, on Thursday.

Hon. Justice Mahalmadane Hamaye Foune said during a meeting with officials of Cote d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Justice and Human Rights that the modalities and necessity of the expansion of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice were part of ongoing ‘reflections’  that would empower the court  appropriately in line with the dynamics of the international environment and the community.

A meeting of officials of the court, units in member states responsible for ECOWAS affairs, the ECOWAS Commission, institutions of the Community and ECOWAS Ambassadors two years ago recommended this enlargement.

The judge, who is leading an ECOWAS Court delegation on a media sensitisation mission in the country, said the community was also exploring the prospect of creating an appellate chamber for cases decided by the Court.

In order to improve access to the court, the judge said the court was in favour of the establishment of a legal aid fund for citizens who could otherwise not avail themselves of its services because of the cost involved.

He explained that this was one of the justifications for the external court sessions of the Court, to enable citizens, who could otherwise not afford the cost of travelling to the headquarters of the court in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, for cases, to avail themselves of opportunities afforded by the court to obtain remedies for violations of their human rights.

The sessions, rotated annually among member states, also provides the opportunity for the court to sensitise citizens about the court's mandate and modalities for access.
-0- PANA SEG 10April2015

10 april 2015 13:21:33

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