Heavier workload for ECOWAS Court of Justice

Judge Monteiro says the court's job is getting heavier

Judge Monteiro says the court’s job is getting heavier

The president of the Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS, Honorable Justice Maria Do Céu Silva Monteiro has launched an appeal for the expansion of its facilities to reflect its stature as an international court and enable it cope with the phenomenal increase in cases occasioned by the addition of a human rights mandate to its jurisdiction.

‘This legal institution deserves to be sheltered in a more spacious and decent premises which will enhance its capacity to fulfil its potential as the ultimate regional court for human rights violations and the interpretation of community instruments, ‘the president said on Thursday, 22nd October while opening the 2015/2016 legal year of the court in Abuja, Nigeria, an annual ceremony that marks the formal transition into another legal year.

Since the 2005 expansion of the court’s jurisdiction to include cases of human rights violations,  the number of cases has increased from about two to 227, most of them for the violation of human rights.

She said that the court has already filed a request with its host government for the expansion of the facilities, one of the main challenges of the 14-year court, the principal legal organ of the community. 

The president announced that only Guinea, Mali and Nigeria have complied with the provision of Article 24 of the 2005 Protocol on the court requiring the designation of a competent national authority in each Member State for the implementation of its decisions.

‘One cannot comprehend a timely and effective justice which is not binding,’ she said, emphasizing that a ‘strong court of justice, independent and respected will inevitably contribute to the promotion of greater regional integration.’

In deciding on the theme of the celebration, the president said the court was guided by recognition that regional integration must be driven by a broader strategy to promote equitable economic growth, social justice, peace, the consolidation of democracy and the rule of law.

The chief registrar of the court, Tony Anene-Maidoh had in his welcome address earlier said that the court had rendered 208 decisions since 2003 consisting of 106 judgements, 87 rulings 12 revisions of judgements and three advisory opinions.

Moreover, he said the court has held 617 sessions since its inaugural sitting on 22nd January 2004 with 58 cases pending, a few of which have been adjourned for judgement.

The 2015/2016 new legal year was celebrated on the theme “Rule of Law, Democracy and Good Governance: Creating the enabling Legal Environment for Regional Integration” and the sub theme of “The Role of ECOWAS Court of Justice in Regional Integration: Consolidating the Human Rights Mandate of ECOWAS Court of Justice.”

The ceremony provides an occasion to discuss issues affecting the court, brief stakeholders on its judicial and extra-judicial activities, as well as its projections/programmes for the new legal year.


Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS