ECOWAS Court of Justice engages media
Many people in West Africa may not be aware of its existence, but there is an ECOWAS Community Court of Justice that adjudicates human rights and post-election violence cases.
The court established in 2005 seeks to ensure that the principles of equity and human rights within the ECOWAS community are duly observed.
At a stakeholder's forum in Accra to make the operations of the court more visible to the media and member states, officials highlighted the need for ECOWAS member states to respect the treaties and provisions in the ECOWAS constitution to make post-election violence and corruption a thing of the past.
The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice is composed of seven independent judges appointed by their respective heads of state and government for a four year non-renewable tenure.
Since its inception in 2005 the court has sat on some high profile cases including Laurent Gbagbo vs. the Republic of Cote D'Ivoire over the Ivorian election crises and the Media Foundation for West Africa vs. the republic of Gambia over the detention of some journalists in Gambia without trial.
With the Ivorian case for instance the court was in the process of establishing an independent committee to investigate the results of the Ivorian election before violence broke out in the country and the subsequent arrest of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo.
According to Justice Anthony Benin, a justice of the ECOWAS court of justice, the court is open to all persons within the ECOWAS community.
President of the supreme court of Ghana, Dr. William Atuguba called on ECOWAS to be active and influential in its role to address the challenges of drugs, crimes against humanity and post-election violence within the sub region.
The three day conference will seek to identify how the ECOWAS court of justice can be strengthened to promote good governance, democracy and human rights protection within the sub-region as well as foster cooperation between the court and the national courts of member states and Non-governmental organizations.