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Justice ministers endorse experts' decision on ECOWAS jurisdiction

(MFWA/IFEX) - On October 7, 2009, the Council of Justice Ministers of ECOWAS unanimously endorsed the decision of the Committee of Legal Experts to maintain the protocol establishing the jurisdiction of and access to the ECOWAS Court of Justice after the Gambian government had initiated an amendment of this protocol.

With this endorsement, which will be tabled before the Council of Foreign Ministers in November 2009, the ministers of justice have agreed that Articles 9(4) and 10(d) of the Supplementary Protocol (A/SP.1/01/05) instituting the Community Court of Justice should not be amended whatsoever and that maintaining the Court as it is provides additional safeguards for the protection of citizens' human rights.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) endorses the Justice Ministers' conviction that the protocol creating the court is a major advancement in human rights protection in the sub-region and a challenge for member states to develop and maintain systems that can guarantee visible and effective protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of their people.

MFWA therefore calls on the Council of Foreign Ministers to also uphold this decision and impress on their Heads of State to dismiss the Gambia proposal in order to preserve the integrity, independence and status of the Community Court.

On September 30, 2009, the Committee of Legal Experts rejected proposals submitted by the Gambia to the ECOWAS Commission seeking amendment to the protocol establishing the jurisdiction of and access to the ECOWAS Court of Justice.

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