The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice said it held 89 sessions, received 46 new cases and delivered 34 judgements and 13 rulings in its 2015/2016 Legal Year.

The Vice President of the court, Justice Micah Wright, made this known at a news conference in Abuja on Wednesday ahead of the inauguration of the 2016/2017 Legal Year.

Mr. Wright added that the court had held 694 sessions and delivered 136 judgements and 100 rulings since its inception in 1993.
“Between January 2001 when the judges were sworn in and January 2005, only two cases were filed.
“However, by the end of 2005, the number of cases had increased by six, a trend that remained in the ascendancy with an exponential increase in the number of cases filed before the court mostly for human rights violations.

“In statistical terms, the court has since inception held 694 sessions, received 271 cases, delivered 136 judgements and 100 rulings as well as delivered four advisory opinions and 17 decisions for the revision of decisions as at Sept. 26, 2015.
“Specifically, since the last legal year, the court has held 89 decisions, received 46 new cases, delivered 34 judgements and 13 rulings and dealt with two applications for the revision of its decisions.”

The court’s vice president said that the number of cases handled by the court was an indication that the citizens recognised and appreciated the role the court was playing in promoting human rights, transparent democracy, and good governance.

He further said that the court relied on and applied the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights in discharging its human rights mandate.

He added that the court also included other instruments to which member states were signatory because of the absence of a regional human rights instrument.

Responding to questions from journalists, the Chief Registrar of the court, Tony Anene-Maidoh, said that the non-implementation of the decisions of the court by member states remained a challenge.
Ms. Anene-Maidoh, however, said that 21 decisions of the court had so far been complied with while the court was awaiting response from member states on the implementation of 34 other decisions.

“There are some judgements that do not require enforcement because maybe the court just pronounces the law – i.e. says something to that effect – but they do not require that member states give us returns regarding such cases.
“We can tell you definitely that 21 (decisions) have been complied with or enforced and on 34 other judgements, we are still waiting to hear from the member states information regarding the status of implementation of those 4 decisions.

“Part of the problem is that most of the member states have not appointed the competent national authority responsible for the enforcement and it is only that body that should give us information regarding the compliance or enforcement.”
The chief registrar said that the Republic of Guinea, Nigeria, Mali, and Burkina Faso were the only member states that had appointed the relevant authorities to implement the decisions of the court.

He, however, added that efforts were being made to sensitise member states to the need to appoint designated authorities to ensure implementation of the court’s judgements.
He added that the appointment of such authorities would enhance cooperation between member states and the court.
The 2016/2017 Legal Year will be launched on Friday.

The theme for the year is: `The Contributions of the ECOWAS Court of Justice in the Fight against Terrorist Financing and Money Laundering within the West African sub-region: the perspective of GIABA’.
GIABA is the French acronym for the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa.

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