Regional Parliament urged to support an initiative to strengthen effectiveness of ECOWAS Court

The ECOWAS Court of Justice has invested USD 345,126 dollars in the procurement of the virtual technology infrastructure that will enable it cope with the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic through the digitization of its processes and the conduct of virtual court sessions, the President of the Court has said.

Justice Edward Amoako Asante said in a goodwill message to the opening of the 2020 virtual session of the ECOWAS Parliament on Wednesday, 13th January 2021 that the deployment of the virtual technology has enabled the court to function optimally in safety despite the raging pandemic that has made physical court sessions problematic.

He said that the expenditure was committed for the procurement of video conference equipment and related materials after the initial disruptions to the Court’s judicial functions which affected sixty cases scheduled for both hearing and judgment during the first quarter of 2020.

“The Court realized that in a post Covid-19 world, it was imperative to migrate to the virtual technology infrastructure in order to continue to discharge its role,” the President told regional parliamentarians at the Second Ordinary Session of the Parliament for 2020

Justice Asante also said the Court had to align its practice direction to the reality of the virtual technology which along with the deployment of the technology, resulted in the efficient and uninterrupted disposal of cases, Improvement in turnaround time for Court hearings and a general improvement in the management of case files.

Its other benefits, he added, include savings on legal costs consisting of travel air tickets of Litigants, Agents, Lawyers and Witnesses as well as logistics and hotel costs while eliminating the personal contacts between the Bench and the Lawyers, Agents, Litigants and witnesses with the attendant risks of infection.

The President urged the Parliamentarians, who are considering the budget of the Community during the weeklong session, to support the proposal by the Court to strengthen its Information Technology capacity to enable it cope with the human resource imperative of the deployment of the virtual technology.

“In doing so, they will be making an important contribution to the survival and functioning of the Court while protecting the huge community funds that have been invested in the virtual technological infrastructure that has become the livewire of its operations,” he concluded.