The President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights has characterized the ECOWAS Court as the ‘new destination for judicial human rights protection in Africa,’ after just a decade of supervising new judicial mechanisms  for Human Rights protection in West Africa that are rooted in the strategic documents of the 15-Member ECOWAS.

Welcoming a delegation of the ECOWAS Court on a working visit to the Court in Arusha on Monday, 26th February 2018, Honorable Justice Sylvain Ore said that the ECOWAS Court has created an admirable judicial mechanism founded on the human rights provisions in the 1993 ECOWAS Revised Treaty, the regional Supplementary Act on Sanctions, the 2001 Protocol on Good Governance and Democracy and the 2005 Supplementary Protocol extending the jurisdiction of the Court.

He said that ‘through the relevant provisions of the amended Treaty, interpreted and read alongside those of the 1991 Protocol and while applying the provisions of Article 38 of the International Court of Justice’s Statutes,’ the Court has been granted universal jurisdiction on issues of human rights as exemplified  in various landmark decisions.

The President said that the African Court has keenly followed the jurisdictional developments of the ECOWAS Court since its establishment and determined that the time was apt to collaborate with the Court as the two courts constitute the ‘most concurrent and complementary Human Rights Courts  in Africa.’

Describing the visit as the first in the history of the African judicial system, the President said it would enable the two institutions to formalize a long overdue judicial cooperation, exchange operational and judicial information and strengthen complementarity between them while promoting dialogue among the judges for the benefit of the continent and its human development.

In his speech, the President of the ECOWAS Court, Honorable Justice Jerome Traore said the historic visit was designed to develop synergy between the two courts for the effective discharge of their human rights mandate.

Moreover, he said it would also enable them establish a sustainable mechanism for permanent dialogue that facilitates the promotion of democracy and improves the state of human rights protection in the continent.

Through such collaboration, Justice Traore said, the courts would contribute to the enthronement of a culture of respect for human rights, noting that the Memorandum of Understanding to be signed at the end of the visit would provide a formal mechanism for collaboration in addressing the vexed issue of human rights in Africa.

Five plenary sessions, mostly technical, will be held during the visit between officials of the two courts with presentations and discussions of the thematic issues of human rights jurisprudence of the courts, overlapping jurisdiction and mechanisms for the enforcement of their decisions while staff of the registries of both courts will discuss case management, share experiences and agree modalities for collaboration.

The ECOWAS Court delegation will also visit the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals and the East African Court of Justice.

The MOU defining the modalities for cooperation between the two courts is expected to be signed on Thursday, 1st March 2018 at the end of the visit.

The ECOWAS court delegation, led by the President, also includes judges, Directors and staff of the Court.