Regional Court out to promote democracy despite financial crisis

THE East African Court of Justice (EACJ) remains steadfast in promoting good governance and democracy in the region, despite a financial crisis it faces.

While lamenting on the failure of Partner States in timely remittance of financial contributions, the President of the East African Community’s (EAC) treaty-based judicial body Justice Nestor Kayobera, asserted that the judicial organ remains committed to ensure that East Africans get justice.

“It is how the situation is, but we are sure we will do whatever we can to ensure that our people get timely justice,” Justice Kayobera assured, when he hosted a delegation of former African leaders who toured the court last week.

Partner States’ failure to honour their financial obligations has derailed the Court’s operations, but Justice Kayobera was adamant that the Court would stick to its mandate.

“In June we postponed our sessions for the First Instance Division, probably we may also postpone it for the Appellate division in August due to financial constraints,” he said.

Out of 1,300 cases filed at the Court’s First Instance Division, only 406 have been determined, while another 244 remain pending.

As for the Appellate Division, only 120 matters have been handled and determined, while 18 cases are still pending.

Despite the grim picture, Justice Kayobera maintained that EACJ remains a true stakeholder of good governance and was committed in advancing and promoting democracy in the region.

In their rejoinder, the delegation, led by former Sierra Leonean President, Ernest Bai Koroma paid glowing tribute to the Court for an enormous role it plays in sustaining democracy within the EAC.

The African elders, further encouraged the Court to remain steadfast in their mission the financial challenges notwithstanding.

“Stick to the law to ensure that justice prevails, hoping that the financial crisis may soon become history,” he said.

For his part, former Mozambican leader, Joaquim Chissano insisted that democracy was nothing without the work of Courts, while former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn hailed the role being played by the EAC and other regional economic blocs in the drive towards an integrated Africa, adding that multiple membership to various regional economic communities could undermine the spirit of speedy integration of the continent.

“Existing regional mechanisms including the EACJ should be properly funded to enable them execute their mandates effectively,” he argued.

EACJ is one of the organs of the East African Community established under Article 9 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community. Established in November 2001, the Court’s major responsibility is to ensure the adherence to law in the interpretation and application of and compliance with the EAC Treaty.

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