By John Ikani
President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Amoako Asante says only six West African countries are ready to respect its rulings, 20 years after its establishment.
Speaking at the opening of an International Conference to celebrate the court’s 20th anniversary, Asante said only six countries of the 15 member states had met the pre-requisite for obeying the court rulings.
While noting that all countries ought to have set up a national authority to implement its rulings, Asante 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 judgements 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 judgements 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.
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 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 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.
He said 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’s 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 recognised 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.