By Ifeanyi Nwoko
The President of the Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS, Justice Amoako Asante, has emphasized the need for national courts in member states to operate in harmony with the regional court to drive the community integration goal of ECOWAS.
He also called for the domestication of ECOWAS revised treaty and protocols on the court by Member states.
Asante made the call while delivering a remark at the closing of the International Conference organized by the court to mark the 20th anniversary of the court.
The week-long conference is with the theme: “Twenty Years of ECOWAS Court of Justice: Achievements, Challenges and Prospects.”
Asante said: “In order to achieve our community integration objectives, it is of utmost importance that the relationship between the ECOWAS Court of Justice and the national courts of Member States is properly defined and that they work together in harmony.
“It is also necessary for the Member States to domesticate the ECOWAS Revised Treaty and the Protocols on the Court and to voluntarily comply with or implement the judgments of the Court.
“The time has therefore come for the Member States to pay attention to the ECOWAS legal regime, as Community Acts are not directly applicable in Member States.
“This is coupled with the lack of collaboration between the ECOWAS Court of Justice and the national courts of Member States, as seen from the lack of referrals from Member States,” he said.
He added that the non-implementation of the judgment of the court was also a pointer to the lack of harmony between both parties.
Asante stressed that member states must work with the court towards harmonizing the judicial and legal systems with the aim of “creating the enabling legal environment for the attainment of our community objectives.
“We must also recognize that ECOWAS is a supra national organization and by agreeing to form ECOWAS, Member States, by implication, have ceded part of their sovereignty to ECOWAS to act on their behalf in areas of their common interest.
“It is therefore in our collective interest for Member States to fulfill their Treaty obligations to ECOWAS.
“It is therefore our hope that the recommendations of the conference would be implemented by the Member States and the Court, in order to reap the full benefits of the outcome of this conference,” he added.
He expressed the hope that in the coming years, the ECOWAS Court of Justice will have the opportunity to flourish beyond its human rights mandate and play a more effective role in the economic integration agenda of the community.
He thanked all participants at the conference for their immense contribution to the outcomes that have been reached.
He particularly thanked the President of the Republic of Togo, Faure Gnassingbé, the Chief Justices of Member States and Ministers as well as heads of other ECOWAS institutions for their attendance.
NAN reports that at the end of the conference, recommendations were made bordering on Challenges and achievements of the court, its jurisdiction, the ECOWAS Human Rights Regime, enforcement of judgments and strengthening the effectiveness of the court. (NAN)