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ECOWAS Court President urges strengthening of African Human Rights Institutions

The President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Justice Edward Amoako Asante, has called on stakeholders to contribute towards bolstering the independence and capacity of human rights organisations in the continent to enable them contribute more towards enhancing its human rights records. 

In his address at the 77th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ rights (ACHPR) in Arusha, Justice Asante extolled the progress made with advancing human rights in Africa through various legislations at the continental level which has helped to strengthen jurisdictions and milestones.

He also acknowledged the role of the African Charter as the cornerstone of the African Human Rights framework, noting that it has “contributed to the development of human rights in Africa by setting a regional standard for the protection of rights and freedoms.”

He also noted the importance of similar instruments as underpinnings in the development of the human rights regime in the continent such as the Maputo Protocol (2003); the Kampala Convention (2009); and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1990).

In the address, Justice Asante also stressed the essential role of various regional and sub regional courts in safeguarding human rights, including the ECOWAS Court, which is vested with the powers, among others, to interpret, apply and enforce human rights in the 15 member Community of West Africa.

The President, however, expressed concern at the inconsistent adherence to the rulings of African human rights courts, noting that while African countries were quick to commit themselves to international instruments, these were not reflected in their enforcement of the decisions of their court in order to evade scrutiny of the human rights records.

He added that such behaviour was not only inimical to the promotion of human rights in the continent but that non-compliance with the decision of their courts eroded public trust on the human rights bodies of Africa.

Justice Asante also said that recent democratic reversals in Africa manifested in the recent coups as well as economic mismanagement also impeded the progression of human rights initiatives.

He, therefore, urged the authorities of Member States to champion good governance, enforce accountability, and bolster support for economic growth and poverty alleviation.

The 20 day session which commenced on 20th October 2023 is being held at the headquarters of the AHCPR in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania.

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