The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has commenced the setting up of national Civil Society Coalitions for a planned regional advocacy aimed at ensuring the implementation of decisions of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice by ECOWAS member states.
Already, five of such coalitions that bring together Civil Society Organizations (CSO) to jointly pursue the advocacy have been initiated in Ghana, Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire, Senegal and Nigeria.
The ECOWAS Court was established in 1991 as the principal legal organ of the ECOWAS and charged with the statutory responsibility of creating an enabling legal environment in member states. Although the Court could be a major regional judicial mechanism, its effectiveness has been weakened by non-compliance with its judgments by offending member states.
Recognizing the negative effects of such non-compliance on the effectiveness and reputation of the Court, the MFWA in partnership with Ibis-Ghana, initiated the first phase of this campaign in 2012 to seek the intervention of the ECOWAS Commission in ensuring that member states comply with decisions of the Court.
As part of last year's campaign, a group of CSOs from across the region, jointly issued a declaration calling on the ECOWAS Commission to ensure that offending member states comply with judgments of the Court. The declaration, which was issued after a CSO meeting in the Nigerian Capital, Abuja, was subsequently presented to the ECOWAS Commission.
The declaration was received on behalf of the Commission by its Vice President, Dr. Toga Gayewea McIntosh, who acknowledged the importance of having a strong and effective regional judicial mechanism. He consequently indicated the Commission's commitment to ensuring that the issue of implementation of decisions of the sub-regional Court is placed on the agenda of the Heads of State Summit in 2013.
The MFWA is, thus, urging the ECOWAS Commission to prioritize the issue of compliance with decisions of the Court in its 2013 activities and discussions because injustice will always be a stumbling block to the pursuit of regional peace and stability.
Issued by the MFWA in Accra on June 11, 2013 The MFWA is a regional independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Accra. It was founded in 1997 to defend and promote the rights and freedom of the media and of expression.