A Former Chief Registrar of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice Mr. Anthony Anene-Maidoh has called for the enforcement mechanism of the judgments of the Economic Community of West African States.
Mr Anene-Maidoh who made the call at the 2023 International Conference by ECOWAS Court of Justice in Banjul, the Gambia with the theme: ECOWAS’ Zero Tolerance Unconstitutional Change of Government said the court of Justice should be reviewed to ensure the execution of the regional court’s judgments by member states.
In his presentation, on one of the sub themes of the conference, An Appraisal of the Judgment Enforcement Mechanism of the Court of Justice, Mr. Anene-Maidoh, decried the non compliance of the regional court’s judgments by member states.
Mr. Anene-Maidoh who said that in the West African region, the Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS has gained credibility for its bold judicial pronouncements however noted that the continued non-compliance with the Court’s decisions by Member States may give rise to loss of confidence by the public in the court.
The Court, like other international tribunals relies on the cooperation of States to comply with its decisions in good faith. The Court can only provide effective legal remedies when their judgments are complied with by Member States in accordance with the principle of Pacta Sunt Servanda. The judgments of the Court are binding and Member States have an obligation to comply.”
Mr. Anene- Maidoh said there was the need to re-design the enforcement mechanism of the judgments of the ECOWAS Court of Justice and to adopt desirable measures from other Regional Courts in order to strengthen the judgment enforcement mechanism.
He said the judgment enforcement mechanism of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, as it is presently, is rudimentary and not very effective as it is also not in accord with international best practice.
He said the statistics on compliance with/enforcement of the judgments of the Court, which the Court has compiled from 16th March, 2023, shows that about Eight Member States have complied in varying degrees with some judgments of the Court.
In his recommendation, Mr. Anene-Maidoh said that there is the need to review the judgment enforcement mechanism of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice with a view to incorporating useful measures in the judgment enforcement mechanism of other regional courts.
He said one such move was the enactment of implementing legislation for the enforcement of judgments of the Community Court by all ECOWAS Member States to enable national courts of Member States to recognize and enforce the judgments of ECOWAS Court of Justice.
Mr. Anene-Maidoh said the involvement of the ECOWAS Commission and ECOWAS political authorities like the Council of Ministers and Authority of Heads of States and Government in the judgment enforcement mechanism of the ECOWAS Court of Justice would also help in the execution of the court’s judgment by member states.
Mr. Anene-Maidoh also recommended that the powers of the Court under the 2012 Supplementary Act on Sanctions against Member States that Fail to honour Their Obligations to ECOWAS, should be amended to expressly empower the Court to impose judicial sanctions for non-compliance with its judgments in the form of day to day or lump sum monetary penalty.
He said the Community Court should also be empowered to monitor and supervise the execution of its judgments.
The Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Professor Mohammed Tawfiq Ladan, in his presentation on the appraisal of the judgment enforcement of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, called on member states to ensure the effective implementation of the decisions rendered by the Community Court to ensure compliance with their treaty obligation under the Community Legal Order.
“Member States need to develop initiatives to increase their capacity to effectively execute court’s decisions, including cooperation with other ECOWAS Governance Architecture platform members to offer technical assistance where necessary,” Professor Ladab stated.
He said ECOWAS Court need to draw up an action plan with timelines and deliverable outputs in Liaising with the ECOWAS Commission and Parliament for engagement with national authorities on the implementation of its judgements, decisions and orders.
According to him it is imperative for the regional court to clearly determine its role in deciding the specificity of its judgements and the extent to which it will interact with other actors to ensure implementation of its decisions;
He said the court also needs to develop a more effective mechanism of tracking and monitoring implementation of its decisions, including continuing dialogue with the Member States’ Attorneys General and Chief Judges, which could help in hastening implementation of its judgements as Supranational decisions, not foreign judgments.
The conference, a major annual programme of the ECOWAS Court, is expected to produce recommendations on the way forward for credible elections and consolidation of democracy in the ECOWAS region.
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