Ghana to host hearings on 60 Ecowas cases for the first time

Ghana is set to host the external court session of the Community Court of Justice, (CCJ) ECOWAS, for the first time since its introduction in March 2007 in Mali.

Sixty pending cases have been listed for the session, and they are scheduled to take place at the Law Court Complex in Accra over 11 days, from Monday March 21, 2022, as per the Cause List released by the Court.

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 essence of the program 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 President of the Court, Justice Edward Amoako Asante said.

Furthermore, the President 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.

Citing Article 26 (2) of the 1991 Protocol on the Court, Justice Asante 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.

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The order for the Accra session was dated 29th October 2021 and signed by Justice Asante.

Justice Asante said that since its introduction, similar sessions have been held in Niamey, Ouagadougou, Porto-Novo, Ibadan (Nigeria), Lome, Guinea Bissau, Abidjan (twice) and Bamako.

Despite the importance of the session, the President said 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 the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who is also the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS.