The Chief Registrar of the ECOWAS Court, Mr Tony Anene-Maidoh has stressed the need for the creation of a ‘conducive environment for the functioning of the court’  in recognition of its peculiarities as an international judicial institution whose operations should be informed by best practices.

“ It is of utmost importance that the Honorable Judges of the Court are given a conducive environment to discharge their functions including security of tenure, reasonable length of tenure, sufficient number of judges, conducive office and necessary support staff,” he said in a presentation at the 9th Judicial retreat of the Court at Goshen city near Abuja.

In this regard, he expressed concern about the unforeseen consequences of the 2012 decision reducing the tenure of the judges from five years renewable to four years non-renewable and the proposed reduction in the number of the judges of the court from seven to four.

The proposed reduction was unveiled during the mid-year statutory meetings of the Community held in June in Monrovia as part of cost saving measures.

Both decisions, he added, pose grave danger to the court as it would undermine its capacity to effectively discharge of its role in ECOWAS integration especially in view of the outcry for the creation of an appellate chamber in the court.

‘ A time that calls for the establishment of an appellate chamber within the court is not the time to contemplate the reduction (and) we live in a global village and should take into account international best practices if we are to remain relevant in the years ahead,’

These developments, he added, were illogical as they coincided with a period of growing citizen confidence in the court manifested in the exponential increase in the number of cases filed with the court, mostly human rights related.

He assured that staff would continue to strive to improve on the quality of the services rendered to the judges and stressed the need for collaboration and synergy among the different components for greater effectiveness.

Mr Anene-Maidoh said that some relevant staff that were previously excluded, have been included as part of a capacity building programme for the beneficiaries.

He expressed the hope that the retreat will proffer solutions to some of the challenges confronting the court in response to the dynamics of  the region and the international environment.