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12.02.2006 General News

Justice Akuffo To Serve On Human Rights Court

By Graphic

Justice Sophia Akuffo of the Supreme Court has been elected as one of the 11 members of the new African Court on Human and People's Rights.

A release issued by Africa Legal Aid (AFLA), an international Pan-African human rights organisation, with its headquarters in Accra, welcomed the election of the new judges.

It said the court was established to complement the African Commission on Human and People's Rights, which has its secretariat in Banjul, the Gambia. The release said unlike the commission, the new court would have the power to deliver judgements that would be binding on the state parties to the protocol establishing the court.

It said for the time being, the mandate of the court would be limited to issues involving international human rights law.

Almost two years ago, however, the assembly of the African Union (AU) decided that the Human Rights Court would be merged with the AU Court of Justice, a process that still needed to be completed.

According to the release, the African Court, which would be based in East Africa and would be funded by the African Union, would become operative in July this year, after the 11 judges-elect had been sworn in.

It said on January 21, 2006, the Executive Council of the AU, meeting in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, elected the following persons to the new court: Fatsah Ouguergouz (Algeria), Jean Emile Somba (Burkina Faso), Gerard Niyungeko (Burundi), Sophia Akuffo (Ghana), Kellelo Justina Masafo Guni (Lesotho), Hamdi Faraj Fanoush (Libya), Mododibo Tounty Guindo (Mali), Jean Mutsinzi (Rwanda), El Hadjii Guisse (Senegal), Bernard Ngoepe (South Africa) and G. Kanyiehamba (Uganda).

It said for the time being, the judges, with the exception of the President of the court, would work on a part-time basis.

According to the release, the Executive Director of AFLA, Evelyn Ankumah, said for many years the human rights community had been pushing for an African Human Rights Court.

She said the long-awaited court would soon commence its business and added that she was confident that the election of individuals of the calibre of Justice Akuffo, with an impressive track record of commitment to the rule of law, and the Algerian Judge Fatsah Ouguergouz, a leading expert in international law and human rights, would contribute to AFLA's objective of making human rights a reality for Africa and its people.