ECOWAS: Mechanism for enforcing ECOWAS Court decisions advocated

Calabar, Nigeria (PANA) - Judicial officers of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice have urged member states to comply with a ten-year-old decision of the Community's leaders for the designation of focal points in their countries for the enforcement of the court's judgements.

In wide ranging recommendations at the end of their three-day retreat in Nigeria’s southern city of Calabar, the officers expressed concern that this decision had not been operationalised, thereby reducing the effectiveness of the Court as the sole regional judicial organ authorised to interpret regional instruments and ensure the protection of the human rights of the 300 million community citizens.

The Supplementary Protocol of the Court, signed by regional leaders in January 2005, requires that the 15 member states should “determine the competent national authority for the purpose of receipt and processing of the execution of the judgements of the court and notify the Court”.

In their recommendations at the end of the retreat on Wednesday, the officers reminded the member states of their commitment under Article 89 of the ECOWAS revised Treaty in which they committed themselves to respecting their obligations under the Treaty.

The provision is a reaffirmation of the internationally-acknowledged legal principle under which states commit to respect treaties to which they are signatories which is the foundation of international law.

Article 24 of the 2005 supplementary act stipulates, among others, that the execution of the decisions of the court should be through a writ of execution from the courts’ registrar to the relevant member states which should execute based on the rules of civil procedure of the state.

The participants also made other recommendations to improve the administrative and financial practices of the 14-year-old Court, the mandate of which was originally to interpret the Community’s legal instruments, a mandate that was enlarged in 2005 to enable it deal with the infringement of the human rights of community citizens.

In her closing remarks. the President of the Court, Hon. Justice Maria Do ceu Silva Monteiro, paid tribute to the pioneer judges for laying a good foundation for the functioning of the Court.

She assured the Community that the seven new judges of the Court, who were sworn in in June 2014, would work strenuously to improve its relevance and effectiveness for the Community.

The 6th Judicial retreat, one of the three hosted by the Court, enabled the participants to review the 185 decisions taken by the court between 2004 and 2014, comprising 82 rulings, 86 judgements, 14 review judgements and three advisory opinions.

The retreat also discussed other financial and budgetary issues concerning the court as part of the process of familiarising the new judges with the operations of the court.

Some 55 judicial officers, mainly the judges, their personal assistants, the chief registrar as well as legal staff in the registry and research departments, participated in the retreat.
-0- PANA SEG 22Jan2015

22 Janeiro 2015 12:48:43

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