“The Judge of our time is searching for himself because his function has fundamentally changed. The Judge is no longer the reader-reciter of the law that he or she applies indiscriminately.
“The Judge gives meaning to the law and adapts it to the evolution of society. The law, it must be said, is an intrinsic element of the life of society, a living instrument that is interpreted according to the evolution of society, time and morals,” Lady Justice Imani D. Aboud, President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights has stated.
Lady Justice Aboud who was speaking at the first Judicial Retreat of Judges of the African Court through virtual means due the COVID-19 health crisis, said the work before participants was for rigour, predictability, innovation, adaptation and precision.
The virtual retreated monitored by Ghana News Agency at Tema seeks to ensure that the mission of Judges of the African Court will be better fulfilled and better perceived by the other organs of the Union, the stakeholders, in particular the States and the African citizens who expect a lot from us.
The African Court President, Justice Aboud noted that the world, Africa and the African Court are facing enormous challenges, with dire consequences on the protection of human rights.
“I am however comforted by the fact that at the same time, numerous opportunities abound to strengthen our Court and make it play its rightful role in the socio-economic and political development of the continent,” she said.
She said the Judges are using the retreat platform to project into the future, starting from the criticisms and difficulties that the African Court has faced in recent years as its activities, particularly its judicial activities, have expanded.
“In this regard, I would like to mention, among other things, the strong resistance put up by States in the execution of our decisions; the suspicion of bias of the Court in favour of the applicants; the invocation of State sovereignty to justify the non-adherence to the procedures and decisions of the Court.
“The withdrawal by some States of the Declaration which allows individuals, NGOs and others to bring cases before it. Together, therefore, we are going to make an introspective examination of the work of the African Court, find ways to ease the tense relations between it and some member states and see how to improve its work for better protection of human rights in Africa.
She noted that, together stakeholders would make a comprehensive diagnosis of all these topics and hopefully map out the ways and means that will allow the African Court to decode and make sense of the human rights it protect.
The African Court Judicial Retreat, was designed for reflection between high-level jurists, human rights specialists and experts in judicial matters on the future of the African Court as the judicial organ of the African Union with a human rights mandate.
It was also a platform to find ways and strategies to rethink its judicial system, dissect the pitfalls that could stand in the way of its progress and propose new approaches with a view to build a more accessible and sound justice system that protects the rights of all persons, and which had the support of both States and African citizens.