ECOWAS Court registers 641 cases in 19years

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By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

Professor Muhammed Tawfiq Ladan, Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, revealed that since the 2005 amendment of the ECOWAS Court’s Protocol, the court has received a total of 641 cases and issued 135 rulings and 400 judgments within a span of 19 years.

Speaking at the ECOWAS Court Conference in Freetown, he highlighted the predominance of human rights-related cases, affirming the Court’s crucial role in safeguarding human rights in the region.

As an integral component of the West African regional economic integration body, the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice plays a pivotal role in resolving disputes between member states, interpreting community rules, and issuing advisory opinions.

It adjudicates on human rights violations within member states’ jurisdictions, aiming to protect the rights of ECOWAS citizens and uphold the rule of law.

Despite its achievements, Professor Ladan acknowledged challenges faced by the Court, particularly in enforcement and awareness. He said lack of enforcement of Court decisions by member states undermines its efficacy, alongside issues such as lack of referrals and failure to appoint competent national authorities for executing Court orders.

To address these challenges, he urged member states to ensure prompt implementation of Court decisions and enhance capacity for execution. Collaboration with ECOWAS Governance Architecture platform members and academia, adoption of a holistic approach to compliance assessment, and enactment of domestic legislation for enforcing Court judgments were suggested as key strategies for overcoming obstacles.

In essence, while the ECOWAS Court continues to play a vital role in protecting human rights and resolving disputes in the region, concerted efforts are needed to address enforcement challenges and enhance awareness to ensure effective functioning of the Court’s mandate.

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