Arusha — THE African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) has elected Justice Sophia Akuffo from Ghana as the new President of the Arusha-based court.
Justice Akuffo who was elected during the court's 26th ordinary session which was preceded by the swearing-in ceremony of ACHPR judges, had previously served as the Pan-African court's Vice President. The terms of both the President and Vice-President of the court, whose bureau was composed of Justice Gerard Niyungeko from Burundi, the former president, and Justice Akuffo, the vice-president, had ended.
Mr Jean Pierre Uwanone, the court's spokesperson said election of a vice-president will be announced at a later date.
ACHPR started its 26th Ordinary Session in Arusha at the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Conservation Centre with the swearing in of two new judges as it was warming up for the election of a new president and vice-president.
Taking their solemn vows before the former president Justice Niyungeko, the new judges made their declaration to serve the Pan-African judicial institution to the best of their abilities and dedication. The new judges who were sworn-in are Justice Ben Kioko from Kenya and Justice El Hadji Guisse from Senegal.
The two new judges were appointed by the 19th Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union on 16 July 2012 and each of them is expected to serve the ACHPR for a term of six (6) years with immediate effect.
According to Mr Uwanone, the new judges are replacing Justices Jean Mutsinzi from Rwanda and Modibo Tounty Guindo from Mali whose respective terms had expired in the course of the year.
Recently, the court lost one of its judges when Justice Joseph Nyamihana Mulenga from Uganda passed away in Kampala on 29 August 2012 after falling ill. His replacement has not been named yet. The court is made up of eleven judges drawn from countries which are member states of the African Union.
The first judges of the court were appointed in January 2006, in Khartoum, Sudan and sworn in before the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union on 2 July 2006, in Banjul, the Gambia.
Judges of the court are elected after being nominated by their respective states in their individual capacities from among African jurists of proven integrity and of recognized practical, judicial or academic competence and experience in the field of human rights.
The judges are elected for a six year or four year term renewable once. The judges of the court elect a president and vice-president among themselves who serve a two year term. They can be re-elected only once. The president of the court resides and works on a full-time basis at the seat of the court in Arusha while the other ten judges work on a part-time basis.
ACHPR is a continental legal institution established by African countries to ensure protection of human and peoples' rights in the continent. The ACHPR complements and reinforces the functions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, though until now, only twenty six (26) States have ratified the Protocol.
The countries include Algeria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Comoros, Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Lesotho, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Nigeria, Niger, Rwanda, South Africa, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia and Uganda.