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ECOWAS Court To Hear 60 Cases In Ghana

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The external court session of the Community Court of Justice (CCJ) popularly known as the ECOWAS Court will be in Ghana for the first time to hear a total of 60 pending cases, which have been listed for the session, beginning from Monday March 21, 2022.

The sittings will take place at the Law Court Complex in Accra for over 11 days, as per the Cause List released by the court which is headed by a Ghanaian Justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice Edward Amoako Asante.

The release said judgments are scheduled for delivery in 25 of the cases listed for the external sitting in Accra, while the remaining 35 are for hearing. The external court session which is a key element of the ECOWAS Court’s annual work programme is being hosted by Ghana this year, in response to several requests.

The statement quoted Justice Asante as saying that the essence of the programme is to bring justice to the common man at the Community’s grassroots, especially the indigent citizens who could otherwise not afford the cost and logistics of travelling to the seat of the court in Abuja to access justice.

The court’s President also said “the session avails the court of the opportunity for judicial dialogue with national courts of member states and exposes lawyers and Community citizens to the practice and procedure of a regional international court.”

“It also enables the court to engage with high political authorities of the host member state and serves as a citizen outreach opportunity for the court on its competence, mandate as well as practice and procedure of the court.”

Justice Asante cited Article 26 (2) of the 1991 Protocol of the court and said “the protocol allows the court to undertake such sessions in the territory of member state outside the Headquarters of the court where circumstances or facts of the case so demand” and based on an order of the court convened by its President.

The statement noted that the order for the Accra session was dated October 29, 2021 and signed by the court’s President Justice Asante.

According to him, since its introduction, similar sessions have been held in Niamey, Ouagadougou, Porto-Novo, Ibadan (Nigeria), Lome, Guinea Bissau, Abidjan (twice) and Bamako.

The statement, signed by the Director of Communications and Judicial Service of Ghana, J. R. Ampong-Fosu, said Justice Asante explained that it could not be held in 2019 and 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which compelled the court to integrate remote hearings for cases, including the external court session.

The session is expected to be declared open on Monday, March 21, 2022 by President Akufo-Addo, who is also the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS.

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