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East African Court ready to handle post-election cases

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Sheria (The Law Forum)' started by MAMA POROJO, Aug 13, 2010.


    MAMA POROJO JF-Expert Member

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    The East African Court of Justice said it was ready to handle post election cases from the Community’s member states as long as their lawsuits are in line with the EA Community Treaty.

    Speaking during the occasion to launch the court’s five-year strategic plan in the course of this week, the EACJ Registrar Dr John Ruhangisa said the Arusha based court has already received one such case from Rwanda though he did not divulge more information about the claim.

    The court, in its second strategic plan 2010-2015 intends to establish sub-registry office in each partner states so that applicants could file charges wherever they are without necessarily having to travel to Arusha where the EACJ is based.

    In the next five years the court will participate in making amendments to the EAC treaty in order to accommodate a number of issues currently left out in the maiden document which sailed in the turn of the new millennium.

    “We are also still operating as an ad-hoc court which means judges serving at EACJ converge only when there is a case to handle after which they all go back to resume individual responsibilities in their own countries,” explained Dr Ruhangisa.

    According to the registrar it was high time the EACJ become a fully-fledged legal institution with its own permanent staff, judges and magistrates who will be operating full time either at the court’s main chambers in Arusha or in its soon to be established sub-registries in Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda.

    Guest of honor at the occasion Chief Justice Augustino Ramadhan brought to notice what he described to be ‘one danger not considered in the plan;’ “And that is the possibility of the Summit to ignore the court’s decision,” he said.
    “Unless you enlist the bureaucrats on your side you will always be fighting lose battles,” he advised.

    The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) is a treaty-based judicial body of the EAC established in 2001 to ensure adherence to law in the interpretation and application of and compliance with the Community Treaty of 1999. The Court is made up of two divisions: a First Instance Division and an Appellate Division.

    Its Judges, a maximum of ten in the First Instance Division and of five in the Appellate Division, are appointed by the East African Community Summit which is the highest organ of the community, from among persons recommended by the Partner States who are of proven integrity, impartiality and independence and fulfill the conditions required in their own countries for high judicial office, or are jurists of recognized competence.

    According to Dr. Ruhangisa the EACJ is fully capable of handling cases of arbitration and solving regional conflicts within the region and Africa as whole.

    “Most of our judges are qualified conciliators and are members of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators an authority which regulates such hearings even abroad,” he pointed out.

    “It is very costly to take cases abroad where conflicting parties are then subjected to pay the foreign arbitrators . If the cases were handled by our court such expenditures would have been avoided because the EACJ arbitrators are paid by the Community,” he explained.

    The East African Court of Justice is still appealing for recognition. In the eight years of its existence the court has managed to handle only seven cases from which 17 other minor suits developed.

    “Few people, if any, know of the EACJ even practicing lawyers in member states are unaware of the court, in our just launched five-year strategic plan we intend to invest heavily on publicizing both our existence and activities,”

    Tanzania’s Chief Justice, Augustino Ramadhan was one of the EACJ founding justices.