.. rule of law - Expert Accra, Nov 28, GNA - Mrs Justice Aminata Malle Sanogo, member of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, has observed that the acceptance and execution of judicial decisions, constituted not only a measure of the system's efficacy as established by the founding fathers of the Community, but also to the degree of consolidating the Rule of law in West Africa.
Making the observation in a paper she delivered at the just-ended Conference of ECOWAS Chief Justices and ECOWAS Court of Justice in Accra, Mrs Justice Sanogo, urged the Community Court of Justice (CCJ) to regulate and constitute a propelling force to the formulation of judicial policy, indispensable for the realisation of the objectives of ECOWAS.
The two-day meeting with delegates from 10 of the 15-member states of ECOWAS in addition to others from the World Bank, the South African Development Commission and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, was under the theme: "The Judiciary as a Partner in the Regional Integration Process".
Mrs Justice Sanogo whose topic was: "The ECOWAS Court of Justice: Enforcement of its Decisions and Challenges Facing the Court", stated that in principle, one could not fail to observe that in the light of the revised treaty, decisions of CCJ were binding and without appeal. However, those decisions were neither immutable nor sacrosanct, she added.
Mrs Justice Sanogo said some of the problems facing CCJ were accessibility and cost, and pointed out that the court could not adequately carry out its mandate of defending the law without the resolution of those problems, which were likely to bring its operations to a halt.
She held the view that the putting in place of a Legal Aid Programme within a reasonable time frame, to enable deprived applicants to benefit from it, would greatly solve the accessibility problem. She charged member-states of ECOWAS to provide the CCJ with appropriate budget to deal with the inadequate human, financial and material resources problems confronting the court.
"As the principal legal organ of ECOWAS, the Community Court is called upon to define the norms on the protection of the rights of citizens and to ensure a reasonable interpretation and application of the provisions of the Treaty and related instruments."
Mrs Justice Sanogo stated that it might not be an exaggeration to say that practical support from the active operators of the Community "is a sine qua non" for the fulfilment of the mandate of the Court.