The Arusha-based, East African Court of Justice has received 639 cases since its establishment over 20 years ago.
Speaking in Zanzibar during the ongoing tripartite judicial dialogue, the Justice Nestory Kayobera the President of the East African Court of Justice pointed out that the number should have been higher than that.
“But the key challenge is low awareness about the Court and inadequate knowledge on its jurisdiction and procedures among East African residents,” he explained.
The Judicial dialogue between regional and sub regional courts in Africa were officially opened by the Zanzibar President Dr Hussein Mwinyi, who lauded the fact that the discussion encourages exchange on judicial issues.
“The ultimate purpose, as I understand, is to consolidate cooperation between these Courts and between legal officers in a manner that reinforces regional human rights justice as designed and projected by the African Union, the East African Community and the Economic Community of West African States,” said President Mwinyi.
On her part the President of the African Court of Human and People’s rights, Lady Justice Imani Aboud stated that judicial dialogues have become a critical tool to achieve justice in an increasingly globalised world.
“As regional courts, our role is to harmonise and unify the domestic application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,” Lady Justice Aboud added.
She mentioned issues that are of international or foreign in nature but which are increasingly landing in African countries and communities through globalisation.
“Terrorism and its socio-political and economic consequences, pandemics, technology, social media; and further more structural questions such as free and fair elections, governance and states cooperation with international human rights courts and tribunals, to mention a few,” the Court President maintained.
It was further revealed at the Zanzibar dialogue that recent developments in Africa’s socio-political and legal landscape unequivocally demand that African leaders reaffirm their commitment to justice.
“Justice continues to stand as agreed regardless of cases of terrorism, armed conflicts, famine, political violence, under development, or poverty. In fact, and as Agenda 2063 clearly acknowledges, the aim of government is human development mainly through social justice.”
It was reinforced that judges and courts have a role to play in achieving development justice whether by enforcing political, socio-economic or development rights.