Judges study ECOWAS legal system

Justice Micah Wilkins Wright(third from right) and Justice  Anthony Benin(third from left),from Supreme  Court , in  a pose with participants.Photo Victor A.Buxton  (1)A three-day training seminar for Ghanaian judges and lawyers on the practice, procedure and jurisprudence of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice is underway in Accra.

It is to create the awareness for the citizens of the 15-member states to know the existence of the community court of justice and the purpose for its establishment among others.

Participants are deliberating on topics such as, ‘The Jurisdiction of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice’, ‘The practice and procedure before the ECOWAS Court of Justice’, ‘Overview of the jurisprudence of the ECOWAS Court’, ‘Judgement of the ECOWAS Court’.

It is important to note that no fees are paid by aggrieved parties who file their cases at the ECOWAS court.

The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice has the mandate to operate as a Community Court, an Arbitration Tribunal, ECOWAS Public Service Court and a Human Rights Court.

Making a presentation on the topic “The Jurisdiction of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice” yesterday, Mr. Justice Micah Wilkins Wright, Vice President of the Court at Abuja, Nigeria, said that the court had jurisdiction to determine cases of violation of human rights and others as provided in the supplementary protocol.

“Let me be quick to sound this note of caution that the national courts of member states should not see the ECOWAS Court as a rival or competitor seeking to usurp their functions or oust their jurisdiction. Rather, we are partners in the quest to enhance and ensure the total integration of our sub-region, especially in the area of citizens’ and people’ rights and thus contribute to democracy and good governance, which in turn, translates into an improved and uplifted standard of living of our people.

“It is however necessary for all Member States, ECOWAS institutions and Community citizens to recognise the fact that the court belongs to the Community. Whenever necessary, they should not shy away from approaching the Court for the interpretation and application of the ECOWAS Treaty, Protocols and Conventions or from seeking advisory opinion on any legal issue. This is the only way we can develop our regional body of law.

“I am convinced that this conference will be of immense mutual benefit to the Court and to the legal community of Ghana, and by extension, to other member States, as it will create the much needed awareness about the Court and its jurisdiction and engender mutual trust and confidence as well cooperation, collaboration and coordination,” he said.

In a solidarity message read on the behalf of the Chief Justice, Mrs. Georgina Theodora Wood by Mr. Justice Anthony A. Benin, a Supreme Court Judge, she said that Ghana was committed to holding aloft the banner of fairness, transparency, equity and above all justice in the justice delivery system in the country.

She gave an assurance that Ghana would continue to play its role effectively and efficiently as expected to enable the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice to live up to its responsibilities.

 

By Castro Zangina-Tong

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