ECOWAS Court President urges regional parliamentarians to contribute to improving the enforcement of decisions of the Court

The President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Hon. Justice Edward Amoako Asante has charged Community parliamentarians to contribute towards strengthening the effectiveness of the Court by mobilising their Member States to set up the mechanism for the enforcement of its decisions.

‘The Court plays a strategic role in our regional integration process as it assists Member States to build a culture of democracy and good governance by helping to strengthen human rights protection and respect for the rule of Law,’ he told them at the opening of the first ordinary session of the fifth legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament for 2021 in Abuja on Thursday, 27th May 2021.

As evidence of their commitment to these objectives, Justice Amoako said that the Community committed itself under Article 4( g) of the revised Treaty to the ‘recognition, promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.’

He told them that only six Member States- Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria and Togo- have complied with the provision of Article 24 of the Supplementary Protocol of 2005 on the Court requiring Member States to designate a competent national authority for the enforcement of decisions of the Court.

‘ As stakeholders, we must all rise to defend the integrity of the Court through the enforcement of its decisions as integration is impossible without a strong protection of human rights for which the citizens are the ultimate beneficiaries,’ the President said at the ceremony.

He also spoke about the vexed issue of the reduction of the number and tenure of the judges with the tenure reduced from five years renewable to four non-renewable in order to align it with the tenure of the other Community statutory appointees and as cost saving measure.

‘This rather sad and misguided alignment has left the Court as the only international court with such an arrangement thereby robbing it of the benefits of institutional memory, continuity and experience and coming at a time of a steady increase in the number of cases which as at this week stands as 149 pending cases,’ Justice Asante explained.

He added: All international courts, except the Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS have mostly five, seven or ten year tenure which are also staggered to enhance and retain their jurisprudence and institutional memory.

This state of our Court is a complete misnomer that must as a matter of urgency be corrected by the appointing authority if the Court is to maintain its pride and prestige as the best Court in Africa in respect of its human rights jurisprudence.”

The President noted that these shortcomings were highlighted in the belief that both institutions shared a common commitment to the emergence of a vibrant court that is not encumbered from playing its role as the ultimate authority for the interpretation of Community texts and through the exercise of its human rights mandate, contributes to entrenching a culture of transparency and respect for the rule of law.

The ceremony was attended by the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the Vice President of Liberia, Her Excellency Jewel Cianeh Taylor, the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Sen. Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean Claude Kassi Brou as well as senior officials of the Commission and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.