Legal and human rights experts have identified three levels of intervention required to improve the effectiveness of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in discharging its enlarged mandate as the regional institution charged with the protection of the human rights of the citizens of the region.
‘Member States, the ECOWAS Commission and the Court itself have responsibilities to discharge in ensuring that the institution can effectively protect the human rights of citizens based on existing international instruments and best practices in order to improve the region’s human rights environment,’ the experts said in recommendations at the end of an international conference in Bissau.
The experts who reviewed the human rights regime of the region and the role of the court in its implementation urged the 15 Member States to designate a national authority for implementing the decisions of the court and provide leadership in implementing its decisions.
This is in line with the provisions of the 2005 additional Protocol of the 14-year old Community Court.
They endorsed the suggestions for the creation of an appellate chamber for decisions of the court, the harmonization of the various versions of the texts of the court and the facilitation by the ECOWAS Commission of the implementation of the decisions of the Court.
In this regard, the experts urged the Commission to open a window that will enable the Court provide an annual report of the status of implementation of its decisions to the Council of Ministers, which comprises ministers responsible for providing strategic direction to the Community as a peer review mechanism.
The experts, drawn from within and outside the region, urged the Court to engage in massive sensitization of judicial authorities of Member States on the mandate of the court and their role in the implementation of its decisions.
The three day international conference, the fifth to be organized by the Court, was on the theme Human rights as a fundamental value of ECOWAS ; an analysis of the jurisprudence of the ECOWAS Court of Justice.
Some 70 participants, comprising legal and human rights experts, judges of the Court, staff of its registry and relevant staff of the Court participated in the conference. ECOWAS Commission