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ECOWAS Court charges Parliament on advancement of community laws

By Ifeanyi Nwoko

Abuja, July 22, 2020 The Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS Court has charged Parliament and Member States to help foster the development of community laws.

President of the Court, Hon. Justice Edward Amoako Asante disclosed this while addressing Members of Parliament during the ongoing Virtual Second Extra Ordinary Session.

Asante pointed out that just like the Parliament, the Court also has the power to entertain referrals under its mandate as the principle legal organ of the community.

He explained that the Court is supposed to ensure the observance of law and principles of equity in the interpretation and application of the 1993 Revised Treaty and other legal documents of the community.

He said that Under Article 10 of the Protocol on the Court, it is vested with the power to issue in advisory capacity, a legal opinion on matters that require the interpretation of the provisions of the Treaty.

The Court’s president however pointed out that it could not perform this unique function without referrals from National Courts of Member States.

“In the exercise of this mandate, the Court expects referrals from the Courts of Member States in order to help strengthen the development of Community law.

“In this way, it contributes to the prevention of conflicts or disputes as to the interpretation of the provisions of the treaty.

“Unfortunately, the Court has never in its history received any such referrals from any Member State, a worrisome development which has implications for the development of Community law and its integration into those of the States.

“The Court is therefore encouraged by the exercise of this referral power by the Parliament, albeit by the Commission,” he said.

He therefore expressed optimism that the partnership between the ECOWAS Court and the Parliament would bring about advancement of the Court’s function.

He charged Members of Parliament to push in their individual countries that such referrals be sent by the courts in Member States to the sub-regional court.

“As we continue to strengthen the role of Community institutions in our integration, we look forward to work with Parliament and ECOWAS parliamentarians towards ensuring that the ECOWAS Court receives referrals from national courts because of its salutary impact on our integration project.

“In this way we will be strengthening the collaboration between both institutions in the service of the Community and furthering the delivery of justice,” Asante said.

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