The speaker of the ECOWAS parliament, Sidie Tunis, has called on presidents and leaders in West Africa to ensure obedience to the Community Court of Justice’s ruling, warning that disobedience of its orders is bad for ECOWAS’ reputation.
According to Mr. Tunis, state actors decide which ruling or opinion of the court to honor.
“This does not just undermine the integrity of the court but creates a serious reputational risk for ECOWAS,” he said.
He called on attorneys general across West Africa to “urgently organize a special meeting to address this ugly trend.”
Giving a remark at the opening of the international conference to mark the 20th anniversary of the court, Mr. Tunis said that the attitude of selective adherence to the court’s ruling was also diminishing the reputation of the court.
Mr. Tunis, who described the court as a beacon of regional justice, hailed the court for its numerous rulings, bringing about changes in the sub-region.
“After 20 years, the Community Court continues to act as a beacon of regional justice, and we have already seen and heard how its decisions have led to myriad changes in law and practice across the West African sub-region,” he said.
The speaker, however, emphasized that non-adherence to most of its rulings by member states who are signatory to the protocol that set up the court was a disservice to the court and West Africa.
“We take due cognizant of the fact that the reputation of the court is being brought into disrepute by slow, partial, and even non-implementation of its ruling,” he pointed out. “The Community Court was established to ensure the observance of law and of the principles of equity in the interpretation and application of the provisions of the Revised Treaty, as well as all other subsidiary legal instruments adopted by the community.”
He added, “This, in the minds of the framers, would ensure the fair, impartial and independent administration of justice, so that each citizen is treated with respect, dignity, and fairness, and receives fair treatment in the application of our laws.”
Recalling that the ECOWAS parliament had celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2020, the speaker said the organization of such periodic conferences and law reviews would ensure best practices in dispensing justice.