Sixty cases were filed with the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in 2018, the highest number of cases filed in a single year in the Court’s history, the President of the Court, Honorable Justice Edward Amoako Asante has said, citing records at the Court’s Registry.

Compared to the 47 cases filed in 2017 and 45 in 2016, the President said the new threshold is evidence of the ‘increasing confidence in the Court and its appeal among citizens as a recourse mainly for the violation of their human rights,’’ one of the four mandates of the Court which also serves as a Community Court, a Public Service Court and an Arbitration Tribunal.

The number of judgements delivered by the Court also increased to 31 in 2018, higher than the 19 delivered in 2017 and the 29 delivered in 2016.

There was also a significant improvement in the number of Court sessions held in 2018 which increased to 85, up from 79 in 2017 although much lower than the 105 held in 2016, a historic high in the Court’s history.

The President, who spoke in a New Year message to the staff, noted that there has also been a progressive increase in the number pending cases before the Court which stood at 115 at the end of 2018 compared to 89 in 2017 and 63 in 2016.

He described as ‘ironic’ the decision to reduce the number of judges of the Court from seven to five at a time of significant increases in the number of cases pending before the Court which has also reached a historical level.

Honorable Justice Asante pledged the commitment of the judges, who assumed duty in August 2018, to faithfully discharge their responsibilities and ensure that justice was done in a timely manner despite the ‘existential threat’ posed by the reduction in the number of judges as well as the insufficient facilities.

‘We have already lined up a host of cases to deliver judgments in January when the judges return from their Christmas vacation to demonstrate the resolve to make a difference,’ the President emphasized

Moreover, he assured that the Court was ‘determined to work with Member States in finding a solution to the vexed issue of the enforcement of the decisions, which goes to the heart of its effectiveness.’

He said the Court was mulling options for engaging with Member States and the relevant authorities to address these concerns in order to enable the Court effectively play its expected role in West African integration, particularly in contributing to regional peace and security which are preconditions for successful integration.

The President also spoke of an ongoing engagement with the host government, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to provide suitable accommodation to the Court in line with its obligation under the headquarters agreement to host the Court.

A total of 387 cases have been filed with the Court since its inception with the President pointing out that 193 judgements and 106 rulings were also delivered during the period from the 908 Court sessions held.