Ghana’s oldest practicing lawyer, Mr. Sam Okudzeto has urged Member States to explore the possibility of designating their Bar Associations as the competent authorities for the enforcement of the decisions the ECOWAS Court in order to help improve the present level of enforcement which stands at about 30 percent.

Contributing to a discussion on a paper presented by a delegation of the Court to members of the Ghana Bar Association, Mr. Okudzeto, said that the present practice of designating the offices of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice as focal points for enforcement is ‘contradictory.’

Mr. Okudzeto, who is a member of the country’s Council of State, argued that as a corporate entity, Bar Associations are properly equipped to play the role of ‘competent national authority,’ for the enforcement of the decisions of the Court.

Article 24 of the 2005 Supplementary Protocol on the Court requires Member States to designate a national authority that shall be competent for the enforcement of the decisions of the ECOWAS Court. Twelve countries have appointed the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice as national authority. They are: Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

The country’s Council of State is a body of prominent citizens, analogous to the Council Elders in the traditional political system, which advises the President on national issues.

Earlier, the President of the Court, Justice Edward Amoako Asante, who led the Court’s delegation,  had told the members of the Association of plans by the Court to teach ECOWAS law to Law Students to enable them benefit from its ‘massive jurisprudence’ by deepening their knowledge of Community law. He said that because of the language diversity of the region, the Court’s procedure consists of a blend of civil and common law practice.

Justice Asante added that in order to promote efficiency and cut costs, the Court has, in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, developed an IT-driven case management system that enables it to conduct virtual Court sessions. He told the lawyers that a training programme for the region’s lawyers is planned for later in the year which will also familiarize them with the specificities of the Court in terms of practice.

In brief remarks earlier, the President of the Ghana Bar Association, Mr. Yaw Acheampong Boafo reiterated the commitment of the association to the promotion and protection of human rights, one of the four mandates of the Court.

Papers presented at the event, which was attended by a cross section of members of the association, were “An overview of the Court,” followed by others on the Practice and Procedure of the Court and Representation before the Court; Human Rights mandate and jurisdiction of the Court; Enforcement of the decisions of the Court and Relationship between the Court and National Courts.