Judges of the ECOWAS Court of Justice have resolved to articulate clear guidelines for the award of reparations in order to resolve the existing disparities in the quantum of awards by the Court in similar situations depending on the panel hearing the case.

The decision was one of the outcomes of the just concluded 8th Judges retreat of the Court held in Goshen City near Abuja and was sequel to a presentation on “Guidelines for the Award of Reparations by the Court,” by Mrs. Franca Ofor, a Principal Legal Officer in the Research and Documentation Department of the Court.

In the paper, she described reparation as the measure taken to remedy an injury or harm caused by a violation and aimed at relieving or alleviating a victim’s pain, removing the cause, and restoring a victim back to his/her original state.

“Reparation also helps to dissuade or prevent future violations/harms by requiring changes in the laws, policies, or systems that create the enabling environment for the violations,” she added.

She argued that reparation should start with the identification of the victim while the specificities should depend on the circumstance of each case where the evidence of injury or prejudice suffered has been established.

Relying on the general principle of law and the legal basis for reparation which states that where there is injury, there must be a remedy (Ubi Jus Ibi Remedium), she identified the five internationally recognized forms of reparations to include restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.

Following an earlier paper on Amicus Curiae by its Registrar, Mr Aboubakar Diakite, the Court acknowledged its value as it has featured in its jurisprudence since the third case filed in the Court.

Mr. Diakite had in the presentation traced the history of the concept, a latin phrase that means friend of the Court and consisting of an individual or organization invited by the Court to proffer neutral submission on a complex legal or specialized aspect of the law but whose opinion is not binding on the Court.

While the Court acknowledged that although Amicus Curiae was not explicitly provided in the Texts of the Court, it is an acceptable and useful judicial practice in many common law countries.

The three day retreat was attended by the five Judges of the Court, the Chief Registrar, Directors, Executive Assistants to the Judges, and some staff of the Court.