The ECOWAS Court of Justice says only six West African countries are ready to respect its rulings 20 years after its establishment.
President of the Court, Justice Amoako Asante, said since establishment of the court in 1991, only six countries of the 15 member states, had met the pre-requisite for obeying the court rulings.
Giving an address at the opening of an international conference to celebrate the court at 20 and also seek law reviews and advance its knowledge, Asante said that all countries ought to have set up a national authority to implement its rulings.
The conference has as its theme: “20 Years of ECOWAS Court of Justice: Achievements, Challenges and Prospects”.
Speaking further, he listed Guinea, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo and Ghana, as the six countries that had set up a competent authority to implement the court rulings as stipulated in the protocol.
“The poor rate of compliance with judgments of the Court, which currently stands at about 30 per cent, is also of grave concern to the Court.
“We regret that only six member states have appointed the competent national authorities for the enforcement of judgments of the Court in their respective domains.
“These are the Republic of Guinea, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo and Ghana. We will continue to appeal for the remaining members to do the needful,” he said.
The other West African countries yet to set up such authority include: Benin, Cape Verde, Côte D’ivoire, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
Asante said that the 1991 Protocol establishing the court stipulated interpretation and application of the Revised Treaty, Protocols, Conventions, Supplementary Acts, Regulations, Directives and Decisions, as part of the mandate of the court.
He said that the Court also had the jurisdiction to review the legality of the instruments listed, while also serving as an administrative tribunal for ECOWAS public servants.
According to him, the court also acts as an Arbitration tribunal, adding that it was aware of its key role in the integration process of the community and as the guardian of the community law and protector of human rights.
“It is significant to note that the human rights mandate of the Court has become the dominant aspect of its judicial functions. We are proud to note that due to its bold decisions on human rights complaints, the international community has recognized the evolving ECOWAS human rights regime.
“The unique feature of this human rights regime is that there is no requirement for the exhaustion of local remedies. Community citizens therefore, have the option of lodging complaints for human rights violations before their national courts or the ECOWAS Court of Justice.
“We therefore wish to acknowledge with pride, the interest that has been shown in the jurisprudence of the ECOWAS Court of Justice by scholars and researchers from all over the world.
“With all humility, the ECOWAS Court of Justice is a source of pride for our community,” he said.
Reeling out the achievements of the Court, Asante said that in spite of challenges confronting it, the court had lodged a total of 561 initiating applications, delivered 130 Rulings and 301 Judgments.
He said that the court had also registered 38 applications for revision of judgments and had delivered 24 revision decisions.
“It has also given five advisory opinions. The Court has held a total of 1226 Court sessions,” he said.
He thanked all past and serving judges of the ECOWAS Court of Justice that had contributed to this impressive judicial record.
He, however, added that there were currently 166 cases pending before the Court.