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African, ECOWAS courts sign agreement on cooperation on human rights 

A new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) would be signed between ECOWAS Community Court of Justice and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

In a statement issued by the court on Thursday, the MoU is to strengthen their collaboration in deepening respect for human rights in Africa.

The last agreement was signed between both courts was on March 1, 2018.

In that MoU, both parties agreed to cooperate in areas of common interest within the context of their constitutive instruments.

The identified areas of cooperation included staff exchanges, publications, particularly of their respective jurisprudence, reciprocal representation, knowledge and information sharing, research and training.

Both courts also agreed to cooperate in capacity building and resource mobilisation for the execution of joint projects.

Furthermore, President of the court, Justice Edward Asante, led a 14-member delegation to Arusha, Tanzania, on a five-day working visit to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights to sign the new MoU.

In his opening remarks, Asante urged the technical officials involved in articulating the successor document, to ensure it benefited from the experience gained with the implementation of the previous MoU while taking notice of current realities.

“In this way, you will be ensuring that it becomes a better tool for deepening the cooperation between both courts towards the attainment of the objectives that informed this arrangement for the overall benefit of our people, particularly those who see in both courts, the only hope for the protection of their human rights.”

The agreement to be signed would also strengthen their collaboration in deepening respect for human rights in Africa.

The delegation included the five judges of the court, directors, registrars and heads of department of the court.

The justice said the preamble to the 2018 MoU emphasised the inspiration behind the collaboration.

“Which is basically to enhance the promotion and consolidation of our common goals in a way that brings added value to human rights on the continent.

“Although there is a divergence in our jurisdictions, the underlying value is our joint commitment to the discharge of our mandates which will invariably contribute to deepening the tenor of human rights on the continent with implications for political stability, peace and security,” he added.

He also said the intervening years since the signing of the MoU had seen changes on the international scene.

Moreso, he said the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially, resulted in changes in the mode of doing things.

He said such changes included the application of virtual technology for court sessions, which he noted had improved citizen access, ensured the disposal of voluminous cases, and reduced cost of litigation for the benefit of indigent citizens.

“In the face of the recent political upheavals in West Africa, it has become imperative to employ this emergency technological situation to further strengthen our courts as bulwarks for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, both of which are under threat by the latest political developments.”

During the technical session, legal officers of both courts are expected to make presentations focused on the peculiarities of both courts in relation to case management, handling of applications and the enforcement of their decisions.

Also, they are expected to make presentations on the overview of their mandates.

The delegation is also expected to visit the headquarters of the East African Court of Justice and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT), both of which are based in the city. (NAN)

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Written by Tom Chiahemen

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