14 November 2012

West Africa: Ecowas Commission Pledges to Ensure Compliance With Community Court Decisions

The ECOWAS Commission has expressed its commitment to ensure that member states comply with decisions of the Community Court of Justice (ECCJ). The commitment was made by His Excellency, Dr. Toga Gayewea McIntosh, the Vice President of the Commission, while receiving a delegation of Civil Society Organizations on Monday, November 12, 2012 at the ECOWAS Secretariat, Abuja.

The delegation, led by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), paid a courtesy call on the Commission to present a Declaration adopted by Civil Society Organizations' (CSOs) on July 30, 2012 at a forum organized by the MFWA in partnership with the ECOWAS Parliament. The delegation appealed to the Commission to take urgent steps to ensure that member states comply with the decisions of the Community Court of Justice.

The Legal Officer for the MFWA, Mrs. Ugonna Ukaigwe, expressed the Foundation's frustrations and concerns about some member states that have refused to comply with the decisions of the Court, citing the Gambia as an example.

"The Media Foundation for West Africa has litigated successfully two cases on behalf of two Gambian journalists, but to date, the Gambia has continued to ignore the decisions of the Court," she said while highlighting the need for the Commission to take urgent action.

The President of the West Africa Bar Association (WABA), Mr. Moussa Coulibaly, while presenting the Declaration on behalf of the delegation added that the uniqueness of the Court may disappear and the court may lose its glamour if its decisions are not implemented. He also indicated that the hope of the community's citizens will be diminished if members States continue to ignore the Court's decisions since the Court now stands as the only avenue for seeking redress of violations in the community. He appealed to the Vice President to ensure that the CSO declaration is submitted to the Heads of States and government of ECOWAS.

In his response, the Vice President assured the delegation that their concerns will be appropriately dealt with. Dr. McIntosh specifically assured the delegation that the Commission will work to ensure that the issue of implementation of decisions of the Community Court of Justice is placed on the agenda of the Summit of Heads of States within the next 12 months, adding that it is the responsibility of the Commission to effect the decisions of heads of states.

"We have established an institution; we have no option but to see that the institution succeeds," Dr. McIntosh added.

The delegation of Civil Society Organisations that presented the Declaration to the ECOWAS Commission was made up of representatives from the Media Foundation for West Africa, the West Africa Bar Association (WABA) and the Network of National Human Rights Institutions (NNHRI-West Africa).

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