The ECOWAS Court has unveiled a historic outreach programme that will enable it engage with the region’s citizens as part of its campaign to improve public awareness and access to the Court whose role in the protection of  human rights has become it defining mandate.

The phased outreach programme will be launched next year in communities in Sierra Leone, Liberia and The Gambia, the President of the Court, Honorable Justice Edward Asante told a delegation of Public Interest Lawyering Initiative for West Africa (PIWA) during its Friday, 19th October 2018 visit to the Court.

Justice Asante said the programme, the first by the Court, will complement the Court’s existing public information platforms as well as sensitization campaigns, which are mainly focused on radio and television programmes with an advocacy component.

He expressed concern about the poor enforcement of the Court’s decisions by Member States ‘and our wish that the Civil society would help in pressuring the States to comply with their obligations under provisions of the Protocol on the Court relating to the enforcement of the decisions of the Court,’ that requires them to designate focal points for the purpose and enforce in accordance with their rules of civil procedure.

Information available at the Court’s Registry showed that 28 decisions have been enforced while there is no record of enforcement for the remaining 53 decisions.

‘A Court can’t be effective except its decisions are enforced,’ the President said, noting that the success of the Court is attributable to its independence, strength and insistence on holding Member States accountable for their Treaty obligations.

Earlier, the Nigerian focal point of PIWA, Prince Chima Williams, said the visit was to familiarize the members with the dynamics, processes and decisions of the Court as part its engagement with the Court.

He assured the President of the group’s support, using its network, in the area of the enforcements of its decisions and the expansion of the access by community citizens.

Later, the Chief Registrar, Mr Tony Anene-Maidoh made a presentation on the various aspects of the court, its mandate and jurisprudence followed by a question and answer session.

Members of PIWA are drawn from Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. Also included in the delegation were officials representing Non-governmental Organisations (NGO’s) from South Africa and the United States of America.