The President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Justice Edward Amoako Asante has called for the support of the regional parliament in the Court’s effort to exercise its referral mandate as the principal legal organ of the Community responsible for the interpretation of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty and other Community texts.
In a goodwill message at the opening ceremony on Tuesday, 21st July 2020 of the second extraordinary session of the ECOWAS Parliament, the President said that under Article 10 of its Protocol, the Court is vested with the power to issue, in advisory capacity, a legal opinion on matters that require the interpretation of the provisions of the Community’s Revised Treaty.
In the exercise of this mandate, he said that the Court expects referrals from the Courts of Member States in order to help strengthen the development of Community law and ensure uniformity in interpretation of the Treaty.
“Unfortunately, the Court has never in its history received any such referral from any Member State, a worrisome development which has implications for the development of Community law and its integration into those of the States, the President noted.
“As we continue to strengthen the role of Community institutions in our integration, we look forward to working with the Parliament and ECOWAS parliamentarians towards ensuring that the ECOWAS Court receives referrals from national courts because of its salutary impact on our integration project,” he added.
He explained that through such complementarity, both institutions will be strengthening their collaboration in the service of the Community and furthering the delivery of justice.
He commended the Parliament for migrating to the use of virtual technology for the session thereby joining the growing list of Community institutions that have, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, resorted to the technology to continue to render their valued service to the Community.
‘We in the Court started on this route about a month ago when we initiated the use of this technology after the pandemic forced the adjournment of 71 cases including 27 judgments and 12 applications for accelerated hearing, “ he explained.
Justice Asante said that the Court resorted to the use of the Zoom application for virtual Court sessions about a month ago, a process that required the updating of its practice directions, the development of the infrastructure for the electronic filing of cases and the capacity building of the judges, staff and other stakeholders.