The President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Honorable Justice Jerome Traore has frowned at a proposal to reduce the number of  the court’s judges from seven to five as part of a cost saving institutional reform being pursued by the Community as this is incongruous with the burgeoning demands of Community citizens on the Court.

“It is a paradox that this was the time chosen to proceed with a reduction in the number of judges from seven currently, to only five, if the envisaged reforms were implemented, “ the President said of the proposal which was unveiled during the recent mid-year statutory meetings of the Community held in June 2017 in Monrovia.

“The least that can be said, is that the institutional reforms announced in Monrovia, during the recent statutory meetings does not augur well for the development of community justice in our sub regional space,” the President said at the opening of the 9th judicial retreat of the Court on Tuesday, 5th June 2017 at Goshen city in Nigeria’s Nassarawa State.

The proposal, he said, coincides with a period when the court has experienced a significant increase in number of cases, mostly human rights related.

Pending cases in the court increased from one in 2003 to 87 as at June 2017 while 779 court sessions have been held as at June 2017.

The President characterized the current legal year as synonymous with trials and daunting challenges caused mainly by the closure of the Abuja airport which disrupted the scheduling of hearings and negatively impacted on the functioning of the Court.

Honorable Justice Traore commended the organizing committee of the retreat, chaired by the Chief Registrar, Mr Tony Anene-Maidoh, for two innovations in this year’s retreat, one of which was the discussion of various sub themes by panelists and the active participation of some categories of staff, who were previously excluded,  in order to improve their capacity.

The 2017 retreat is organized around the theme “The ECOWAS Court of Justice: prospects for growth,” and intended to enable the court reflect on the dynamics of the community. Six sub themes are being discussed including the organization and functioning of the court and the relationship between the court and other community institutions.

Other sub themes are the Enforcement of the decisions of the court; perspectives on the award of compensation, E filing of court processes and the implementation of the recommendations of the previous retreats of the court.

A minute’s silence was observed for the late Allen Odey, staff of the Court’s Protocol unit, who died on Thursday, 15th June 2017.