NEWS By LUCAS BARASA The EastAfrican Posted Saturday, July 28 2012 at 15:46 The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) has confirmed its powers will in the near future involve trial of cases of a criminal nature, including genocide and crimes against humanity. The EACJ Registrar, Prof John Eudes Ruhangisa said the changes were in accordance with an equally recent directive from the region's heads of state. "It is true the expansion of the court's jurisdiction to include matters involving crimes against humanity is being considered and this is in accordance with the Summit directive. This means that the court will have jurisdiction to handle matters such as genocide and others like the case of the Kenyan suspects now before the ICC," Prof Ruhangisa said last week. Both the court and East Africa have competent judges who can handle these kinds of matters, Prof Ruhangisa was quoted by Tanzania-based East Africa News Agency in an interview. READ: (Opinion) EAC court with criminal mandate good for integration Prof Ruhangisa however said the organisational capacity, the human and financial resources, among other things will be a major challenge for court and that they will have to be solved first before it expands its mandate. For the court to be able to handle matters of a criminal nature, it will require the establishment of a prosecution, investigation, witness protection departments and prisons where the accused can be remanded pending prosecution and incarceration upon conviction. "It is technically and practically possible but a lot needs to be taken into consideration before moving in that direction," he advises. The court has already established sub-registries in all the five partner states that will be launched August. The matter was approved by the region's Council of Ministers in November last year, Prof Ruhangisa added. The sub-registries will enable the people in the region to know better the work of the EACJ, which together with the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) are among the key integration organs of the now more than a decade old revived East African Community (EAC) that hopes to move gradually to political federation. The 1994 genocide in Rwanda led to the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) under the United Nations, while four Kenyans are currently facing trial for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) following the 2007 post-election violence in which hundreds were killed and thousands left homeless. Should the EACJ move to the next stage of criminal trials, the region would have edged a notch higher in efforts to put its destiny in its own hands.