East Africa: Regional Court Shuts Door On Challenge to EU-EAC Trade Deal

The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) has dismissed a petition seeking the reinstatement of an appeal of the case on the Economic Partnership Agreement between the regional bloc and European Union.

A Tanzanian, Mr Castro Pius Shirima, filed the re-appeal on March 5 this year and hearing was scheduled for May 9.

However, Mr Shirima or his lawyer failed to appear before the court, forcing the judges to throw out the petition for abuse of court processes.

Mr Shirima moved to court in 2016 seeking EACJ to bar four East African Community member states from signing the EPA trade deal and the two that already had, stopped from proceeding with subsequent procedures.

He argued that the deal contravened the EAC Treaty.

Kenya and Rwanda had signed the EPA on September 1, 2016 deal but Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan declined.

In July 2017, EACJ dismissed the case saying it did not find evidence that the EPA would cause irreparable economic loss or violation of the regional treaty.

Mr Shirima filed an appeal which was dismissed on February 15, 2018. He was not in court then.

While dismissing the application to reinstate the appeal, the five-judge bench said the petition was misconceived. The court said the dismissal of the appeal in February was not because he failed to show up but because Mr Shirima had amended documents contrary to court rules.

Further, the judges said, he had failed to serve the respondents -- EAC member states and the Secretariat secretary-general-- save for Uganda with the application subject matter of the hearing.

The judges directed that due to the repeated abuse of court processes, the petitioner would pay the necessary costs.

The court also said that it "desires to put a stop to any other possible abuse of its process in this matter, by directing that no further application relating to this matter shall be entertained at the Registry."

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