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25.11.2005 General News

Conference of ECOWAS Chief Justices Ends

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Accra, Nov 25, GNA - Delegates at the just-ended Conference of ECOWAS Chief Justices and ECOWAS Court of Justice in Accra have suggested that courses on the ECOWAS Treaty and Protocols be part of the curricula of law schools in member-countries.
Furthermore, they have advocated the study of the African Charter on Human and People's Rights at the law schools, the different judicial systems in the sub-region and the study of other legal systems within the region.
These recommendations were contained in a communiqu=E9 issued at the end of the two-day conference, the first of its kind to be held in the sub-region under the theme: "The Judiciary as a Partner in the Regional Integration Process".
Mr Justice George Kingsley Acquah, the Chief Justice of Ghana, conceived the idea of the conference soon after he was appointed Chief Justice some few years ago.
Apart from delegates from 10 of the 15-member states of ECOWAS, other participants from the World Bank, the ECOWAS Court of Justice, the ECOWAS Secretariat, the South African Development Commission, and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, attended the two-day meeting.
The delegates pointed out that continuing legal education in member-countries should address the need for increased knowledge of the different legal systems in West Africa.
While re-affirming the important role of the Judiciary in upholding the Rule of Law, the participants re-dedicated themselves to ensuring the independence of the Judiciary in the sub-region. The Conference participants applauded the Heads of State of ECOWAS for establishing the ECOWAS Court of Justice, which in their estimation, "is a positive factor in the rule of law in our sub-region." They underscored the need for governments in the sub-region to make adequate provision for financial autonomy for the Judiciary, since in their view judicial independence meant financial autonomy for the Judiciary.
More resources, they stated, needed to be made available for the administration of justice.
They also called for the establishment of an additional and separate Judicial Technical Commission to function as a co-ordinating forum on judicial matters.
While considering their gathering as an excellent idea, the delegates suggested that the Conference not only be institutionalised, but should be held bi-annually.
Additionally, they called for the establishment of a technical committee comprising a representative each from the ECOWAS Secretariat, ECOWAS Court of Justice, the Francophone and Anglophone countries, which should meet once a year.
The conference participants noted with satisfaction that it was a step forward for human rights that the ECOWAS Court of Justice had been given direct jurisdiction to hear and determine human rights cases at the suit of an individual.
Nigeria agreed to host the next meeting in 2007.

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