Cooperation agreement on Human Rights to be signed by African , ECOWAS Courts

Social Courts Agreement

A 14-member delegation of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, led by its President, Edward Amoako Asante, is in Arusha on a five-day working visit to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The visit will culminate in the signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding between both courts towards strengthening their collaboration in deepening respect for human rights in Africa.

The new MOU to be signed by the delegation, which includes the five judges of the Court, Directors, Registrars and Heads of Department of the Court, will replace the inaugural MOU signed between both courts on 1st March 2018 in which they agreed to cooperate in areas of common interest within the context of their constitutive instruments.

These identified areas of cooperation include staff exchanges, publications, particularly of their respective jurisprudence, reciprocal representation, knowledge and information sharing, research and training.

They also agreed to cooperate, as far as possible and where the working conditions permit, to cooperate in capacity building and resource mobilization for the execution of joint projects.

At the Thursday, 22nd June 2023 ceremony to mark the beginning of the visit, Justice Asante urged the technical officials involved in articulating the successor document to ensure it benefitted from the experience gained with the implementation of the previous MOU while taking cognizance of current realities.

“In this way, you will be ensuring that it becomes a better tool for deepening the co-operation between both courts towards the attainment of the objectives that informed this arrangement for the overall benefit of our people, particularly those who see in both courts the only hope for the protection of their human rights,” the President said in his opening statement.

He noted that the preamble to the 2018 MOU succinctly underscored the inspiration behind the collaboration, “which is basically to enhance the promotion and consolidation of our common goals in a way that brings added value to human rights on the continent.

“Although there is a divergence in our jurisdictions, the underlying value is our joint commitment to the discharge of our mandates which will invariably contribute to deepening the tenor of human rights on the continent with implications for political stability, peace and security,’ he added.

Justice Asante said that the intervening years since the signing of the MOU had seen momentous changes on the International scene, including the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in radical changes in our mode of doing things, including the injection of technology that facilitates the application of virtual technology for court sessions.

The use of technology, he said, had improved citizen access, ensured the expeditious disposal of voluminous cases while reducing the cost of litigation for the benefit of indigent citizens.

He noted that “in the face of the recent political upheavals in West Africa, it has become imperative to employ this emergency technological situation to further strengthen our courts as bulwarks for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, both of which are under threat by the latest political developments.”

During the technical session of the visit, legal officers of both courts are expected to make presentations that will focus on the peculiarities of both Courts in relation to case management, handling of applications and the enforcement of their decisions as well as an overview of their mandates.

The delegation is also expected to visit the headquarters of the East African Court of Justice and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT), both of which are based in the city.

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