Nigeria: ECOWAS court judge wants "outdated" regional protocol reviewed

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The President of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, Justice Maria Do Céu Silva Monteiro, has described the 1982 regional Protocol defining community citizenship in ECOWAS as ‘outdated’ and called for its revision taking cognisance of the evolving regional and international dynamics of citizenship.

Speaking at the just-ended ECOWAS ministerial meeting on statelessness in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, Monteiro said "Since the signing of the ECOWAS Protocol on Citizenship, some Member States have amended their constitution to permit dual citizenship which is not recognised by the Protocol.

"Moreover, by making community citizenship ‘subservient to the national laws of Member States who are actually the violators of the rights of stateless person, the Protocol has become inappropriate as a tool for addressing statelessness."

An ECOWAS press statement, received here by PANA Saturday, quoted her as praising the UN High Commission for Refugees, which jointly organised the ministerial meeting with the ECOWAS Commission, for constituting an important voice for the promotion and protection of human rights particularly in Africa.

Describing the right to nationality as critical to the realisation of other fundamental human rights, the president lamented that despite this recognition and various international declarations on human rights, an estimated 10 million people remain stateless.

"Given that statelessness is a global problem and the consensus that statelessness and the right to nationality have become issues of international law," she said that the concept of nationality has therefore taken an international dimension and no longer reside in the domestic realm.

"This development," she added, "should interest international and regional judicial bodies such as the Court whose mandate was expanded in 2005 to deal with violations of the human rights of ECOWAS citizens."

Monteiro assured the meeting, which ended Wednesday, of the determination of the Court to faithfully exercise its mandate in order to ensure the protection of the human rights of the citizens, noting that discrimination against stateless persons should be viewed as a violation of their human rights which can be the subject of litigation.

Monteiro was at the head of the Court’s delegation, including Vice President, Justice Friday Chijioke Nwoke. to the meeting which adopted a Declaration on the prevention, reduction and elimination of statelessness in West Africa.

The Declaration contains 25 commitments and highlights in particular the necessity for ECOWAS Member States to  generate concrete information on the causes of statelessness and the number and profile of stateless persons in the region.

At least 750,000 people are stateless or at risk of statelessness in the region and are subject to life in limbo, with limited access to education, healthcare, and employment.
-0- PANA PR/VAO 28Feb2015

28 february 2015 14:36:55




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