A delegation of the ECOWAS Court has urged Guinea Bissau to ratify Protocol   A.Pl.7.91 on the Community Court of Justicce (the 1991 Prorocol) during a visit to the Honorable Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Integration, Mr. Soares Sambú. The visit was part of a week-long sensitization program designed to improve public awareness of the Court in the country.

Justice Gbéri-Bè Ouattara, Vice-President of the Court and Head of the Delegation highlighted the significance of the ratification of the 1991 Protocol. “The ratification will further demonstrate the commitment of Guinea-Bissau to the ideals of the Community. The country is known for its rich history in Pan-Africanism engagement and a legacy further ennobled by his advocacy for civil rights and the spirited defense of the ideals of african unity and empowerment.,” he said. The 1991 Protocol is now ratified by all ECOWAS Member States, except Guinea Bissau and Cabo Verde

Justice Ouattara underscored the significance of the ratification, especially since the nation has ratified the 2005 Supplementary Protocol amending the 1991 Protocol.

He also appealed to the leadership to consider the appointment of a Competent National Authority responsible for enforcing  the Court’s decisions. Article 24 (4) of the 2005 Supplementary Protocol on the Court mandates each Member State to designate a national authority vested with the responsibility of enforcing decisions of the regional court. Drawing parallels, the head of the delegation mentioned that similar appointments had been made in Ghana and The Gambia during awareness-raising missions. All Member States have now appointment the said Authority, except Guinea Bissau, Cabo Verde, Liberia and Benin.

On the outreach initiative, the Vice-President told the Honorable Minister that the campaign was tailored to meet the requirements of various audiences, including judges, judicial personnel, women’s associations, legal professionals, students, members of the press, the Academia, law enforcement as well as control agencies like police, immigration, and customs.

Justice Ouattara expressed hope that the campaign would not just raise awareness of the Court among ECOWAS citizens in the State but also help them recognize the Court as a viable avenue for the safeguarding of their human rights, in accordance with its mandate.

Responding to the delegation’s appeals, Minister Sambú indicated that the President of the Republic, His Excellency Umaro Sissoco Embaló was outside the country. He assured the delegation that he would convey the message upon his return to prompt the necessary actions. The Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Integration is responsible for ECOWAS activities and Institutions.

The visit to the Minister was followed by courtesy calls to the Supreme Court and the Office of Solicitor General. During the meetings, Justice Ouattara emphasized the importance of engaging with sister institutions as a standard precursor to initiating the outreach campaign. Those visits, he said, underscored the mutual respect and collaborative spirit that define the relationship between the courts, recognizing each as equal pillars in the administration of justice.

The delegation of the Court comprised three other judges, Justices Dupe Atoki, Sengu Mohamed Koroma and Ricardo Cláudio Monteiro Gonçalves as well as the Director, Administration and Finance, Executive Assistants to the judges, staff of the Registry, Research Departments, Protocol and Communication Divisions.

The sensitization campaign will be launched on Tuesday, February 20, 2022 at a ceremony expected to be attended by senior government officials, judges, lawyers, students, law lecturers, representatives of women groups and journalists.