By Ifeanyi Nwoko
The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Brou, says the ECOWAS Community Court should help to promote good governance, rule of law and fundamental freedoms in West Africa.
Brou made the appeal in Abuja on Tuesday at the ongoing International Conference dedicated to celebrating the 20th anniversary of the court.
He said it was important for the court to ensure access to fair, transparent and credible social justice in the region.
These, he said, were shared universal values that would contribute to the development of the region and promote the culture of peace, consistent with the 2063 agenda of the African Union.
“During the broad consultations that were conducted in the preparation of this vision, the deep aspirations of the ECOWAS populations were expressed.
“One of the most frequently mentioned is the anchoring of good governance, respect for the rule of law and the fundamental freedoms of citizens in our Community,” he added.
He said that it was essential for the Court to reassure citizens and give them confidence by strengthening rule of law and respect for fundamental freedoms.
Brou recalled that the ECOWAS had in 2005 amended its Protocol to strengthen the Community Court and made strong provisions for the execution of its judgments, to give citizens access to justice.
“The Court of Justice thus evolved into a major instrument of regional integration. This Community organ is now better known to the citizens of the region.
“The expansion of its competences from Community Court to Civil Service Tribunal, Court of Human Rights and Court of Arbitration, gives it an almost universal scope of intervention in many areas, as shown by the significant increase in the number of cases handled in recent years,” he said.
The president noted that the protection of human rights remained particularly fundamental, along with the promotion of the rule of law among litigants, especially women and youth.
“It goes without saying that the question of enforcement of the judgments of the Court in the Member States is still relevant.
“The aim is to improve interaction between the Community Court and the national courts of the Member States which remains one of the challenges to strengthening the relevance of the Community Court of Justice,” he added.
He expressed the conviction that recommendations from the conference will make it possible to consolidate the dispensation of law in the region.
Brou said this would ensure a fairer, more equitable and better integrated community, which was needed to ensure peace, stability and prosperity in West Africa.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 24 papers are scheduled to be presented during the five-day conference. (NAN)