ECOWAS Court Strengthens Legal Expertise of Sierra Leone Lawyers and Law Students

A two day training programme designed to familiarise lawyers and law students from Sierra Leone with the ECOWAS Court of Justice opened on Tuesday, 14th May 2024 in Freetown.

Some 150 lawyers and law students are benefitting from the training which is jointly organised by the ECOWAS Court and the Sierra Leone Bar Association (SLBA)on the margins of the 2024 international conference of the Court which opened on Monday  in Freetown.

The training was specifically designed to equip the lawyers and students with the essential skills required to practice before the Court and bolster their proficiency of the Court’s jurisdiction and specificities.

At the opening of the training, the Chief Registrar of the Court, Dr. Yaouza Ouro-Sama, expressed gratitude to the leadership of the Bar Association for its role in the organisation of the training. The Chief Registrar, who spoke on behalf of the President of the Court, Justice Edward Amoako Asante, commended the participants for their interest and reminded them of the Court’s position that it not an appellate court over national courts, but on the contrary relies on them for the enforcement of its decisions.

“The essence of this program is to create awareness about the Court, its mandate, jurisdiction, access, practice and procedure as well as enforcement of decisions”, he told participants.  He explained that the training was informed by the noticed lack of awareness among lawyers from the country who had appeared before the Court, of its peculiarities  and intended to address this knowledge gap so that they can effectively engage with the Court.

Ms. Eddinia Michaela Swallow, President of the SLBA said one of the main objectives of her tenure was to prioritize training of the members of the Bar and saw the presence of officials of the Court in the country for the 2024 conference as an opportunity that should be leveraged in furtherance of this objective.

Ms. Swallow described the ECOWAS Court as the last resort for lawyers when decisions from the national courts were not favourable and urged the participants to focus and take advantage of the sessions to learn more about the Court.

Four presentations  were made during the training by resource persons from the Court’s Registry and Research and Documentation departments, and were articulated around subjects peculiar to the Court.

Ms. Oluwatosin Nguher, a Senior Research Officer presented “An Overview of the Court” while Mr. Nketiah Apraku, Head of Legal Services and Research enlightened participants on the “Access to the Court and its Jurisdiction.” Specifics on the “Practice and Procedure of the Court” was presented by Mrs Zara Carew-Sabo, Assistant Registrar, Judicial Process and Case Management. The other presentations were made by Mr Gaye Sowe, Registrar, Appeals, Arbitration, and Enforcement whose presentation was on “Enforcement of the Court’s Judgments”.  Each presentation was intended to provide a thorough comprehension of the essential aspects governing the Court’s framework.

The presentations were followed by interactive discussions, culminating in a question-and-answer segment to engage participants and deepen their understanding of the Court’s integral functions.

The training took place at the Freetown International Conference Center, venue of the Court’s Conference, which is 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.”