Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court, on Monday, disclosed that it disposed of a total of 48 decisions in 2019, the highest number of decisions given in a single year by the court since its inception in 2001.
The figure, according to statistics made available by the court’s Registry Department, revealed that out of the 48 decisions, 38 were judgments and the remaining 10 were rulings.
The figure, which is been regarded as a milestone achievement, is said to be significantly higher than the 33 and 23 decisions given by the court in 2018 and 2017 respectively.
“This is the most vivid expression of the expressed commitment of the current judges since their assumption of duty at the end of August 2018 to expedite the handling of cases in order to reduce the number of pending cases and help strengthen the confidence of ECOWAS citizens in the court”, a statement credited to the President of the court, Justice Edward Asante, said in reaction to the landmark achievement.
The president, in the statement, noted that the milestone was achieved despite the challenges confronting the court such as the reduction of the number of judges from seven to five.
Asante said that the judges will remain on this trajectory considering the trend in the number of pending cases which increased to 119 in 2019 compared to 108 in 2018 and 89 in 2017.
“It is widely acknowledged that justice delayed is justice denied and we want citizens who approach the court to do so, confident that justice will be delivered in a timely manner unlike the experience with some national courts,” he added.
Consequently, he said the court has scheduled several court sessions for the first quarter of 2020 during which 55 cases will be heard while 12 decisions comprising eight judgments and four rulings will be delivered.
He noted that although the violation of human rights has become its defining mandate and transformed the court into the preeminent regional court in Africa, the community must not lose sight of its primary mandate related to its role in the integration process as the court charged with the interpretation of community instruments.
The statistics also showed that 441 cases were filed as at December 31, 2019 with the court since its inception, while 116 rulings, 231 judgments and four advisory opinions were delivered during the period. In addition, the court issued 30 orders, revised 18 of its decisions based on 23 applications and held 1,002 court sessions.
The president equally expressed concern at the poor working conditions in the court caused by inadequate office space.