ECOWAS, African Courts sign MOU on Human Rights

Adoba Echono

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The ECOWAS and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights have agreed on new initiatives for improving the execution of their respective mandates under a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the two Courts in Arusha, Tanzania. 

Both courts agreed under the MOU, which was signed at the end of a three-day judicial dialogue of the judges and officials of both courts, to cooperate through staff exchanges, representation in each other’s programme, undertake joint training, knowledge and information sharing.

The cooperation also extends to the publication of their respective jurisprudence as well as research and capacity building within the framework of their constituent instruments.

The MOU, which succeeds the 2018 inaugural MOU by both courts that lapsed in March 2021, is intended to reinforce the existing good relationship between the courts in the protection of human and peoples’ rights.

During the dialogue, the two Courts discussed a wide range of issues relating to their respective mandates during which a number of presentations were made by their officials followed by discussions on their respective jurisprudence.

This is mainly in the areas of human rights; their overlapping jurisdictions; their structures, appointment procedures and tenure; funding; access to the two Courts, admissibility of cases, challenges on compliance with their decisions and mechanisms put in place for the implementation of their decisions, among others.

Their legal staff also held a working session to share experiences and exchange ideas on matters of common interests, particularly on case management, drafting of judgments, legal aid, enforcement of judgments as well as the challenges and measures taken to resolve the identified challenges.

In addition, they reviewed their inaugural MOU which expired in March 2021 and identified the challenges that impeded the effective implementation of its provisions.

They then recommended its renewal and made proposals with a view to ensuring that the successor MOU is more effective and implementable.

The two Courts also adopted a five -year Plan of Action for the effective implementation of the MOU.

The delegation of the ECOWAS Court, accompanied by some Judges of the African Court, visited the United Nations International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) and the East African Court of Justice also based in Arusha, Tanzania.

Hauwa M.