The inaugural judicial dialogue involving strategic level official of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice and the Arusha-based African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights opened in Abuja on Monday, 29th April 2019.

The two-day dialogue involving strategic level officials of the two courts will enable the officials agree a framework for building synergy between both Courts in improving the human rights environment in Africa.

The dialogue will also provide an opportunity to develop a road map for the implementation of the 2018 Memorandum of Understanding signed between both Courts in Arusha, the President of the ECOWAS Court, Honorable Justice Edward Amoako Asante, said at the opening of the dialogue.

He assured the visiting 10 -member African Court delegation that the present college of judges of the ECOWAS Court which inherited the MOU on their assumption of office in August 2018, were determined to leverage its provisions to develop complementarity in order to improve the human rights protection in the continent.

Moreover, he said the dialogue will ‘afford the judges of the two judicial institutions the opportunity to rub minds and exchange ideas and experiences in respect of their judicial mandate,’ and highlighted the similarities in the mandate of both Courts as they relate to the protection of human rights at the regional and continental levels as enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

He spoke of the unique feature of the ECOWAS Court which can entertain human rights cases without the requirement of customary international law for the exhaustion of local remedies and the challenges faced by the Court with the reduction in the number of judges from seven to five with the implications for efficiency and effectiveness.

On his part, Hon. Justice Sylvain Oré, president of the African Court congratulated the new judges of the ECOWAS Court. He reiterated the call on the previous judges last year for dialogue and cooperation between the Courts as a requirement for improvement of human rights observance and the development of the law in the African continent.

He characterized both Courts as icons of judicial solidarity and complementarity while noting the commonalities between them consistent with those similar aspects of their mandates.

Seven presentations will be made by judges of both courts during the dialogue mainly the Unique Features of the Human Rights Mandate of the ECOWAS Court of Justice; Access to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights; Challenges of Enforcement of Judgments of ECOWAS Court of Justice; Overlapping Jurisdiction; Privileges and Immunities of Judges; Dialogue with National Courts; Cooperation and Information Sharing and a proposed road map for the implementation of the MOU signed between them on 1st March 2019.

 Participants include the Five Judges of the ECOWAS Court, four judges of the African Court and key staff of both Courts and the dialogue will enable them share experiences and insights into international best practices in the area of human rights protection.

Prior to the dialogue, the visiting delegation observed a court session of the host Court during which a three member panel of the Court delivered a judgement in a case brought by three former Ghanaian judges, Justices Paul Uuter Dery, Mustapha Habib Logoh alleging the violation of their human rights by the Republic of Ghana over the procedure for their sack over allegations of bribery in 2015.