A three day training seminar on the Practice, Procedure, Jurisdiction and Jurisprudence of the ECOWAS Court of Justice organized by the Court for Ghana’s judicial and legal officers ended in Accra at the weekend.

Five papers were delivered during the seminar, one of the two such trainings undertaken annually by the Court in Member States as part of its stakeholder outreach programme to acquaint citizens with the mandate and modalities for accessing the Court.

‘This is an important activity in the calendar of the Court in furtherance of its determination to plug the knowledge gaps among stakeholders about the Court in order to improve access to citizens and the knowledge of lawyers about the specificities of the Court because of its international nature’, the Vice President, Justice Micah Wilkins Wright said at the opening of the seminar on Tuesday, 29th November 2016.

He used the opportunity to disabuse the minds of the participants about the role of the Court in the dispensation of justice in the region assuring them that it was not in contention with national courts but complementary, particularly its jurisdiction in the area of human rights which has improved the Court’s visibility and appeal.

Justice Wright told the participants that unlike similar Courts, there is no requirement for the exhaustion of local remedies before applicants can resort to the Court for the protection of their human rights, assuring them of the Court’s role as a partner in the dispensation of justice in order to promote the region wide respect for rule of law and good governance while eliminating arbitrariness.

He reminded them of the provisions of Article 15 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty which stipulates that Judgements of the Court shall be binding on Member States, Community Institutions, individuals and corporate bodies.

In order to facilitate the implementation of this Article, he said that the Court’s Supplementary Protocol requires Member States to designate national focal points for the enforcement based on the civil procedure laws of the Member States.

Five Member States have already complied with the provision of this article by designating their focal points.

Justice Wright said that the Court was working with the other Member States to designate their focal points particularly with the increasing public recourse to the Court by citizens for the ventilation of grievances related to the violation of their human rights, which has become the major preoccupation of the court since 2005 when human rights jurisdiction was included in its mandate.

Papers were presented on the jurisdiction of the Court, the practice and procedure before the Court, an overview of its jurisprudence, judgement of the Court and the challenges and prospects of the Court.

In a goodwill message to the opening, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana, Her Ladyship Honorable Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, praised the Court for hosting the seminar which will serve to strengthen the knowledge of the participants about the specificities of the Court.

The Chief Justice, who was represented by a former Judge of the ECOWAS Court, Justice Anthony Benin, assured the Court of ‘my utmost cooperation in order to stabilize and strengthen the Court in order to achieve the objectives set for it by the founding fathers.’

As one of the founding Member States, she assured that ‘Ghana is committed to ensure the observance  of law, the principles of equity, the interpretation and application of the provisions of the Revised treaty  and other subsidiary legal instruments adopted by Member States.