The weeklong outreach of the Community Court of Justice in Senegal ended on Friday, 28th February 2020 with a press conference by the Court’s Vice President, Justice Gberi-be Ouattara who used the opportunity to praise the host government for its support for the campaign which contributed to its success.

At the conference which was dominated by the challenge of enforcement of the decisions of the court, the Vice President described the campaign as a’ huge success’ judging by the level and quality of participation, the media outing and coverage as well as the feedback from the stakeholders on the programme

Justice Ouattara said the campaign, one of the four planned for 2020 by the Court as well as other visibility platforms of the Court, were designed to ‘bring the citizens to the same level of information on the Court so that they can avail themselves of its services, particularly for the protection of their human rights, one of its four mandates.’

The campaign was held in Cote d’Ivoire from 16th and 22nd February 2020 while the last two are planned for the second quarter of 2020 in Guinea and Niger.

He said that the extant instrument of the court relating to the enforcement of the its decisions under Article 24 of the 2005 Protocol on the Court was sufficient but that Member States only need to demonstrate the necessary political will in favour of compliance through the establishment of the required mechanism for enforcement.

Under the article, Member States were required to designate a competent national authority for the purpose of the receipt and processing of execution and notify the Court.

However, he said that although only six of the 15 Member States have designated their authority, the challenges of enforcement were more nuanced as ironically some Member States that have not designated such authority were already enforcing the judgements.

“ We are making progress and I am confident that with time more Member States will comply with the provisions of this Article by not only designating its focal point for enforcement but also taking measures to enforce the decisions,’ he added.

He also told the journalists that 28 cases have been filed by litigants from Senegal since the establishment of the Court and expressed confidence that more cases will come before the Court from the country with the increased knowledge of its mandate, jurisdiction, jurisprudence and the mechanism it has put in place for enhanced access by citizens such as the e filing platform.

The Vice President earlier met the Attorney General and some staff of the Supreme Court during which he explained the essence of the campaign which also included a judicial dialogue which enabled the Court to engage with the Judges of National Courts on the relationship between both Courts and the enforcement of the decisions of the ECOWAS Court.

In his response, Mr. Cheikh Ahmed Tidiane Coulibaly praised the delegation of the Court for the visit, saying that such campaigns will help build synergy between both Courts which have complimentary roles in the delivery of justice.

The weeklong campaign was conducted under three thematic platforms targeted at the public, civil society and non-governmental organisations, lawyers and law students as well as judges of national courts.

Presentations and discussions centred on an overview of the court, how to file cases before the court and women’s rights, the mandate and jurisdiction of the court, the practice and procedure, representation before the Court, privileges and immunities for lawyers and agents as well as women rights.

The delegation of the Court, which included three other judges and staff also paid courtesy calls on the Minister of Justice and the President of the Bar Association.