ECOWAS Court slams member states …for low level implementation of judgments

The ECOWAS Court of Justice has called on mem­ber states to implement its judgments on cases brought before it.

According to the court, many of its judgments were not being enforced by member states due to the lack of political will.

Addressing a press conference in Accra on Friday, the Head of Legal Services and Research of the Community Court of Justice (CJJ), Apraku Nketiah, revealed that more than 100 judgments remained unimplemented.

Mr Apraku Nketiah(left) addressing the news conference. Photo Godwin Ofosu-Acheampong
Mr Apraku Nketiah(left) addressing the news conference. Photo Godwin Ofosu-Acheampong

He said non-enforcement and low level of compliance of judgments was a major challenge of the court.

The press conference was to draw down the curtains on a week-long sensitisation mission embarked on by a delegation of the court in Ghana as part of efforts to create public awareness of its activities.

It met various stakeholders including the Office of the Attorney General and Minis­try of Justice, the Ghana Bar Association, representatives of Ministries, Departments and Agencies and law students.

Mr Nketiah said the court could not sanction member countries who were non-compliant, due to external and internal factors, including its inability to activate the necessary judicial protocols for sanctions.

“There is a protocol for sanction regime, but it needs to be initiated by a judgment creditor, using the relevant institutions that have been provided in the protocol. For instance, you can go to the ECOWAS pres­ident and then you make your case to him that there is an outstanding judgment that has not been fulfilled.

“From there, the ECOWAS President can take some steps to activate the sanc­tion regime. Until the judicial aspect of the sanction is activated by the relevant authorities coming to the court, the court itself cannot deal with those sanctions,” he explained.

Despite this, Mr Nketia said the court, through the sensitisation mission, was en­gaging various authorities responsible for implementation, likewise citizens to make them aware of the situation.

Aside from that, he said there were other high level engagements that the management of the court together with the ECOWAS Commission were holding to have the decisions of the court imple­mented.

Internally, he said the court had also instituted some measures like appointing officers who are to take account of the difficulties that member states were facing in implementation so dialogue could be initiated.

“But of course, the political will rests with the leadership of the community and various countries. The implementation process is solely up to them. Ours is per­suasive and theirs is the decision making,” he said.

Mr Nketiah said another challenge the court was currently facing was the reduc­tion of its number of judges from seven to five, thereby making it difficult for them to handle the workload.

He said the court was also challenged with the non-ratification of the relevant texts on the court to make decisions bind­ing of some member countries, ineffective collaboration with the national courts. He was hopeful that the sensitisation mission would help resolve some of the challenges.