The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights has decorated the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice for upholding human rights, the principles of equity, interpretation and application of the provisions of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty within the sub-region.
Justice Sylvain Ore, President of the African Court therefore tagged the ECOWAS Court as ‘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.
Justice Ore noted 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.
The African Court President, decorated the ECOWAS Court at Arusha, Tanzanian during a working visit to the Headquarters of the African Court to share ideas and explore ways of strengthen human rights on the continent.
He said ‘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.
Justice Ore said 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.’
Justice Jerome Traore President of the ECOWAS Court, in his responses noted that, 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 to establish a sustainable mechanism for permanent dialogue that facilitates the promotion of democracy and improve the state of human rights protection on the continent.
Justice Traore said, the courts would contribute to the enthronement of a culture of respect for human rights, in Africa.
The African Court is a continental court established by African countries to ensure the protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa. It complements and reinforces the functions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The Court was established by virtue of Article 1 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, (the Protocol) which was adopted by Member States of the then Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in June 1998. The Protocol came into force on 25 January 2004.
As at February 2018, only eight (8) of the thirty (30) States Parties to the Protocol had made the declaration recognizing the competence of the Court to receive cases from NGOs and individuals.
The eight (8) States are; Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Malawi, Tanzania and Rep. of Tunisia. The 30 States which have ratified the Protocol are: Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Comoros, Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Lesotho, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Nigeria, Niger, Rwanda, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, South Africa, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia and Uganda.
The Court has jurisdiction over all cases and disputes submitted to it concerning the interpretation and application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, (the Charter), the Protocol and any other relevant human rights instrument ratified by the States concerned. Specifically, the Court has two types of jurisdiction: contentious and advisory.
The Court is composed of eleven Judges, who are nationals of Member States of the African Union.
The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice was however created pursuant to the provisions of Articles 6 and 15 of the Revised Treaty of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The ECOWAS Court is composed of seven independent Judges, who are persons of high moral character, appointed by the Authority of Heads of State of Government, from nationals of Member States, for a four-year term of office, upon recommendation of the Community Judicial council.