ECOWAS Court of Justice can’t enforce its rulings-Justice Asante

Justice Edward Asante (middle)  with Mr Harold Agyeman (left) Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs  and Justice Tony Aneno-Maidoh Chief Registrar addressing the forum.

Justice Edward Asante (middle) with Mr Harold Agyeman (left) Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Justice Tony Aneno-Maidoh Chief Registrar addressing the forum.

Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) Court of Justice cannot enforce its rulings and judgments due to lack of focal institutions and ratification of protocols by member states, Justice Edward Amoako Asante, the President of the Community Court of Justice, has said.

Although the court has adjudicated over 300 cases, especially, for individuals seeking redress since its inception in 2001, enforcement has been lacking.

Only five out of the 15-member countries have so far submitted the names of their focal institutions to the court.

Justice Asante disclosed this during a sensitisation forum in Accra yesterday to engage with specific groups within the country whose professional responsibility impacts on the effectiveness of the court, in the exercise of its mandate as a community court.

The court is on four-day sensitisation campaign in Ghana to engage with various groups such as lawyers, students, journalists, the judiciary and other stakeholders to acquaint them with the court’s procedures in order to improve its access by citizens in member states.

Currently, the four-fold mandate of the court is to serve as member states community court, an ECOWAS public service court, a human rights court and as an arbitration tribunal.

Presenting a paper on the mandate and jurisdiction of the court, the President said issues about ratification of ECOWAS conventions and protocols by member states had also created a void in the enforcement regime, since the protocols if ratified could have overbearing effect in local law jurisprudence.

He emphasised that the ECOWAS Court was not an appellate court over national courts, adding that several decisions made it clear that, the court did not have appellate jurisdiction over the decisions of national courts.

Justice Asante said the most prominent mandate of the court was its human rights jurisprudence, saying that, “the human rights jurisdiction of the ECOWAS Court of Justice is the centre piece of its judicial activities, around which its jurisprudence has flourished”.

He said the timing of the campaign, coming a few days after the observance of the International Human Rights days on December 10 and 70 years after the United Nations General Assembly adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was particularly poignant in the context of the court’s human rights.

The President of the Community Court of Justice said Ghana’s human rights credentials based on the 1992 Constitution were impressive since it provisions commit the country’s to protect the human rights of citizens by guaranteeing equality, freedom and justice.

He said the benefits of the sensitisation programme was, therefore, to strengthen citizens’ consciousness of their human rights’, entitlement and the avenue provided by the court to remedy the violation of such rights.

Mr. Harold A. Agyeman, Director of Africa and Regional Integration at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration said the activities of the court were important, particularly, as the regional integration agenda deepens within West Africa, adding that with the regulations that were enacted in the regional integration space, there were likely to be differences in the understanding of the common regional goals and objectives.

BY LAWRENCE MARKWEI AND EVANGEL KELVIN AINOO.

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