By Sylvester Samba.
Officials from the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice have held a sensitization seminar with stakeholders in Sierra Leone with the aim of informing them about the Court’s jurisdiction, jurisprudence, mandate and other related issues.
The program which took place in Freetown on Tuesday 12th March, 2019 was witnessed by Civil Society Organizations, Human Right groups, Lawyers, Women groups, Market women, government institutions, journalists, academics and law students. The program which was said to have benefited the participants was climaxed with questions and answers.
Making a statement, the President of the Court, Honorable Justice Edward Amoako Asante said with the limited patronage of the Court relative to its potential, there was a reorganization that the court needed to deepen its dialogue with the citizens for the effectiveness in the discharge of its mandate.
Justice Asante also said that their campaign came against the backdrop of the 7th February 2019 declaration by President Julius Maada Bio’s State of Public Emergency on rape and sexual violence which speaks to one of the issues of interest to the Court within the context of the exercise of its human rights mandate, which has become the defining mandate of the Court.
He further explained that the current sensitization constitute the second pillar of the campaign in the country. “Our Desire on assumption of office to reinforce the Court’s engagement with the stakeholders was motivated by the pervasive ignorance of the existence, mandate, jurisdiction, practice and procedures of thee Court among the citizenry since its establishment in 2001”, the President noted.
The Deputy Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Robert Tamba Michael Chankanda in his welcome remarks said Sierra Leone as a Member State respects the jurisdiction of the ECOWAS Court.
Dr. Chankanda noted that his government trusts the Court competence to hear individual human rights violations among citizens of the State. He maintained that the sensitization will help inform the wilder Sierra Leonean populace about the mandate, jurisdiction and other functions of the Court.
The Deputy Minister highlighted that the four main arms of ECOWAS are; Authority of Heads of States and Governments which is the highest decision making body, Council of Ministers which is made up of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Ministers in charge of ECOWAS matters, ECOWAS Commissioners which is responsible for the day to day running of the Commission and Community Court of Justice which is the judicial arm of ECOWAS.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Mrs. Nabila Tunis has made a special appeal to her colleague Ministers and senior government officials to attend a special session organized for them at the Miatta Conference Center tomorrow.