President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone has lauded the ECOWAS Court of Justice for its efforts at promoting judicial cooperation, facilitating access to justice and strengthening the rule of law in the region.

Opening the 2024 international conference of the Court in Freetown on Monday, 13th May 2024, the President urged Member States to fully support the Court in the discharge of its mandate and “implement its decisions in good faith.”

While commending the leadership of the Court for contributing to the enviable height attained by the Court, the President said the court has ‘progressively’ succeeded in increasing its crucial role of providing additional justice delivery options to the citizens of the Community.”

In doing so, President Bio said the Court has played a ‘pivotal role in advancing’ the noble objectives that underpin the Community’s integration such as justice, fairness and the rule of law by upholding these fundamental principles across our region.

“As Members of the ECOWAS, we are bound together by a shared vision of regional integration, cooperation, and the promotion of peace and prosperity for our people,” he noted.

He said that the added layer of checks that the Court provides will not only raise awareness of the human rights question but also ensure that Member States do more to uphold the human rights of the region’s citizens.

He assured that Sierra Leone will remain steadfast in “our commitment to upholding human rights, promoting good governance, and ensuring access to justice for all our citizens,” and recognizes “the critical role of the Court in safeguarding these principles and providing recourse to those whose rights have been violated.”

He described the theme of the conference as not only timely and significant but a reminder of the “fundamental principles that underpin our collective efforts to build a more just, inclusive, and equitable society which also resonates well with our domestic Justice Sector Reform efforts.”

The president said the region has recently been confronted with a myriad of challenges, ranging from political instability and social unrest to economic disparities and transnational crime.

Amidst these challenges, he said the region has witnessed ‘remarkable progress and resilience within our communities,’ adding that the strength of the Community’s solidarity and commitment to shared values becomes more prominent during moments of adversity.

President Bio expressed the hope that country’s justice sector  and its stakeholders will continue to explore avenues for sustainable partnership that will be on offer during this and similar conferences in the future.

The four day conference is being held on the theme, “Enhancing the role, relevance and effectiveness of the ECOWAS Court of Justice through the strengthening of synergies between the Court and National Stakeholders.”

The conference is a flagship annual activity of the Court which provides a forum to discuss a contemporary issue of relevance to the Court and the region.

The 2024 conference is being attended by about 250 participants, mainly, academics, lawyers, chief justices of Member States, officials of the national units of Member States and law students from the host country.