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28.11.2005 General News

Cordial relations to exist b/t ECOWAS and national courts

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Accra, Nov 28, GNA - Mrs Justice H.N Donli, President of the Community Court of Justice (CCJ) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has stressed the need for cordial relationship between the regional court and national courts of member-states to ensure its continued growth.

The spirit of co-operation, she said, must prevail in preliminary ruling proceedings, which required national courts to have regard to the functions entrusted to the Court of Justice, and not to give opinion in general or hypothetical questions.

Mrs Justice Donli made the call at a press briefing on the development and jurisdiction of the CCJ, soon after the just-ended Conference of ECOWAS Chief Justices and ECOWAS Court of Justice in Accra.

Delegates for the two-day meeting were from 10 of the 15-member states of ECOWAS, with the rest from the World Bank, the ECOWAS Secretariat, the South African Development Commission and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.

It was on the theme: "The Judiciary as a Partner in the Regional Integration Process".

Mrs Justice Donli urged the national courts to apply the Community Law in its entirety, and even set aside National Law where it conflicted with Community Law.

"Any provision of a national legal system, legislature, administrative or judicial practice that does not allow the national courts to apply the community law is incompatible with the essence of the community law", she pointed out. On human rights, Mrs Justice Donli said it was gratifying to note that the actions for their violations by individuals, were within the competence of CCJ, "except where the action fails to specify the name of the applicant".

She was optimistic that an effective integration process within the sub-region would automatically not only lead to the free movement of the citizenry of member-states, but would also alleviate them from poverty into stable living conditions.