THE African Court of Human and Peoples' Right (AfCHPR) has spelled out its dedication to continue with its activities, including dispensing justice in wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
In his opening speech at the 57th Ordinary Session, President of the Court, Justice Sylvain Oré said the pandemic could not suppress their resilience in pursuing their mission as imposed on them by their oath of office, how ever, the session is now held virtually due to the pandemic scare.
"While we were on the right trajectory to crown the upturn in our work in Zanzibar, we had to interrupt our session due to the imperatives of the health crisis. But it cannot suppress our resilience in pursuing mission imposed on us by our oath of office," said Justice Ore.
The present session, he said, despite the vicissitudes surrounding it, affords them the opportunity to complete their work by adapting themselves to the circumstances imposed by the ordeal without compromising quality of their work.
The programme that awaits them, he added, attests to that: it should lead them to finalize many cases, deliberate on some others and resolve administrative problems.
The president thanked the collaborators, legal, administrative, financial and security officers, computer scientists and technicians, whom he said spared no effort to ensure that services are rendered.
"The technology deployed to hold this session bears testimony to the impressive know-how of our officials. By your coordinated hard work devoted to the task, you have affirmed the metaphor, according to which a community, as we aspire to be, is like a body that needs all its members, none of which can subsist without the other, each bringing its own stone to the building by virtue of their charisma," he said.
He said that they remain the torchbearers of the Court and that their physical remoteness did not alter their work ardor and fire of their passion for justice at the Arusha- based Court venue.
"Colleagues, dear members of the Registry, you did it because nothing should stop justice. At the heart of the turmoil striking humanity, justice must take firm steps, resolute steps because it is the keystone of the social edifice. "It can be elevated to the rank of the vital need of every person, as much as, the economy because without justice, it is not even health itself that will be under threat," said Justice Ore.
He was delighted that the judges and other staff were healthy and sent condolence message for passing on of a receptionist of the Court, Ms Constancia Ishebabi.
By her position, he said, she was the voice of our jurisdiction, its showcase and in a way her icon. The judge mentioned the institutional context marked by the withdrawal of the declarations made under Article 34(6) of the Protocol by the Republics of Tanzania, Benin and Côte d'Ivoire, each for different reasons.
Going by the analysis of the withdrawals, he said, it could be said that they smack more of the prospective than the judicial.
"Whereas either position has its share of the truth, they come up against what is most irreducible in the judicial function, and that is, the independence of judges. In this regard, I can assert that the Judges of this Court are above all suspicion. It is their grandeur to remain so, not for their own comfort but for the parties, be it the State or private individuals. "They do so in the name of respecting the word given in their oath of office, a word given which, beyond the mechanisms implemented for compliance with international law, is the real cornerstone of international commitments," he said.
President Ore said that the Court looks forward to continuing the dialogue with the States concerned that remain parties to the Protocol and do not believe they are closed to the dynamics of making broad access to justice the essential corollary of the effectiveness of fundamental rights.