The President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Honourable Justice Edward Amoako Asante has urged authorities of the Community to revisit the decision to align the tenure of the judges of the Court with those of political appointees of the ECOWAS Commission and Community institutions as it ignored the peculiarities of the Court as a judicial institution and the requirements for its effectiveness.
Speaking during audiences in Monrovia on 17th March 2019 with senior officials of the Government of Liberia, the President said the decision to reduce the tenure of the judges to a four-year none renewable term and the reduction in their number from seven to five has constrained the effectiveness of the Court which operates on a panel of a minimum of three judges.
“Coming at a time when the Court is confronted with an unprecedented number of pending and new cases, it means that the Court cannot operate with two simultaneous panels in order to deal with the backlog of cases and ensure the speedy dispensation of justice,” the President said during courtesy calls on the Speaker of the Parliament, the Chief Justice, the Minister of Justice and the representative of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The President who was in the country at the head of the Court’s delegation on an outreach programme in the country, said the tenure was also inconsistent with the best practices among international courts whose tenures vary between five years renewable, seven none renewable or six renewable once; citing the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights as a classical example.
He therefore suggested the reinstatement of the previous tenure of the judges of five years renewable in order to retain institutional memory which will enhance the functioning of the Court by ensuring that new judges tap into the knowledge of their older colleagues for efficiency.
Three of the pioneer judges had a first tenure of three years which was renewed for five years while the remaining four served for an initial five years renewed for another five years.
The week long campaign also has a sensitization component, a special forum for Lawyers and Law Students, a Judicial Dialogue with judges for building synergy, a town hall/open forum, radio and television discussion programmes and a press conference.