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  AN OFFICIAL OF THE COURT CALLS FOR THE EXPANSION OF THE JURISDICTION OF THE ECOWAS COURT TO ENTERTAIN CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY 

A senior official of the Community Court of Justice - ECOWAS on Thursday, 27 October 2016 met with a delegation from the Regional Office of Amnesty International for West and Central Africa based in Dakar, during which he canvased that the Court be invested with some level of criminal jurisdiction in order to allow it to handle issues related to crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.



The Dean of the Court, Honourable Justice Hamèye Founé Mahalmadane told the delegation that the modalities for the integration of this criminal jurisdiction, which was endorsed in 2012 by a meeting of stakeholders, should be determined by “additional reflections to be undertaken at regional level”.



He argued that such an additional mandate would constitute a valuable instrument in the fight against impunity in the sub region.


“They could involve the creation of an additional chamber  to address issues under this additional mandate," he told the delegation which was composed of Mr. Alioune Tine, the Regional Director and Mrs Samira Daoud, Deputy Regional Director responsible for campaigns.


Justice Mahalmadane informed the delegation about the activities of the Court, which recorded a significant increase in applications by citizens with the inclusion in 2005 of a human rights-related mandate in its four-field jurisdiction.


He equally told the delegation that the Court was considering the level of reforms to the procedure the possibility of instituting legal aid and create sub-registries in the Member States to facilitate citizens' access to the Court. Such reform will serve as the entry point for citizens, especially the most needy.


Citing Article 24 of the 2005 Supplementary Protocol, Justice Mahalmadane highlighted the difficulties relating to the execution of the Court's decisions, stressing the need for Member State to designate a national authority responsible for the enforcement of Court decisions.


He told the delegation that only four of the Community’s Member States- Nigeria, Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso- have complied with the requirement for the designation of such a focal point under this Article.


The Honourable Justice reiterated the willingness of the Court to work with Amnesty International in pursuit of achieving the mandates of the two organizations, particularly in the areas of capacity building for the staff of the Court.


In this regard, he urged Amnesty International to explore the possibility of a separate Memorandum of Understanding with the Court following from the impending MOU with the ECOWAS Commission, which will be nuanced to reflect the peculiar nature of the Court.


Earlier, Mr Alioune Tine urged the region to help in solving the problem of impunity in the area of governance, describing it as a scourge on democracy and good governance in Africa. He stated that his organization was very interested in further reflection with the Court in the fight against impunity. 


He told the Dean that the visit was part of the on-going engagement with the Community towards the signing of an MOU and the implementation of joint activities that will promote the realization of their objectives in the region.


Also in attendance at the meeting was Dr Fall of the Department of Research, Documentation and Communication.