THE Republic of Benin has expressed its commitment to working closely with the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights in strengthening human rights and good governance.
The commitment was made by Benin's Minister for Justice and Legislation, Séverin Maxime Quenum, during discussions with the visiting African Court delegation led by its President, Tanzanian Hon. Lady Justice Imani Daud Aboud.
The Minister welcomed the visit of Court officials, which also included Vice-President, Justice Blaise Tchikaya and key Registry staff, adding that it was encouraging to see the Court's new leadership taking renewed approach of engaging AU Member States on ways to strengthen the continental judicial body.
"The new leadership of the Court has embarked on a renewed approach to its cooperation with States due to challenges it has faced recently in this respect. This is a most welcome and refreshing move," the Minister is quoted as saying during the joint meeting.
According to a statement issued by the Continental Court yesterday, the Minister challenged the Court to undertake reforms to make it more effective by reviewing the structure of the Court and its Registry as well as conditions of service of Judges.
"The Court needs an overhaul of its statutes to take into account some of operational challenges it has been facing," the Minister is quoted in the statement.
On her part, Justice Imani said that the Court has been facing challenges including the relatively low level of ratifications, very few declarations which have been on the decline in recent years, and a poor level of implementation of decisions of the Court.
"The protection of human and peoples' rights is a collective responsibility, with the Member States at the centre as the key stakeholders. The African Court was established at the instance of the Heads of State who were convinced and still remain convinced, that the African Court is a key player in the socio-economic and political development of the continent," she reminded.
Justice Aboud added that the Court was established to help States meet their obligations to ensure the enjoyment of human rights of their nationals. She was, however, quick to point out that the support of States was very critical for the Court to effectively discharge its mandate.
"The Court is extending a hand to all Member States of the Union to work together for the enhancement of human rights on the continent," the Court's President is also quoted in the statement as saying.
It is stated in the statement further that the Court is marking its 15th Anniversary this year and needs everyone's support to ensure it executes its mandate as enshrined in the Protocol.
"The Court is organising a Retreat with the policy organs of the African Union to discuss possible reforms of the Court in Zanzibar in December," the President further said.
The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights was established by virtue of Article 1 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights.