Access to ECOWAS Court: Gambia dragged to ECOWAS Court

The Registered Trustees of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and the Centre for Defence of Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CDHRDA) have asked the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja to stop the Government of Gambia and the ECOWAS Commission from amending the laws concerning the jurisdiction and access to the Community Court.

The Gambian proposals, which were submitted to the ECOWAS Commission and discussed by the

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Commission’s experts in Abuja call for the inclusion of a requirement for a petition for violation of human rights to the Court to exhaust domestic remedies before the matter is taken to the Community Court of Justice; and to limit the jurisdiction of the Court with regard to human rights treaties already ratified by the Member State before the Court.

The proposals also call for amendment of Article 76(2) of the Revised ECOWAS Treaty to create an appeals procedure for all decisions of the Community Court.

But in Suit No ECW/CCJ/APP/11/09 and Exparte Motion and Motion on Notice filed on Monday 28 September 2009 before the Community Court of Justice in Abuja by SERAP and CDHRDA through their lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, the groups challenged the legality and propriety of the Gambian proposals. The proposals were subsequently rejected by both the ECOWAS experts and the ECOWAS Heads of Government.

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