Justice Edward Asante, President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, has underscored need for establishment of legal system to assist Ivoirians approach court for protection of their human right.
Information Officer of the Court, Elohor Ovadje, in a statement said the president made the call at the opening ceremony of special court forum for Lawyers and Law Students in Abidjan Wednesday
Asante said the assistance was for Ivoirians who approach the court for protection, but cannot afford legal cost.
“Such legal aid will help improve access to justice for category of citizens who could otherwise be denied opportunity to avail themselves remedy offered by Court, for violation of their human rights.
“Only 18 cases have been filed by community citizens in Cote d’Ivoire since 2009, when the first case was filed from the country,” Asante said.
He said that the court delegation was in that country on five-day awareness campaign, as part of engagement with community citizens on the outreach programmes, to address shortcomings of visibility platforms.
Also, the court had undertaken the campaign in three countries – Cape Verde, Liberia and Sierra Leone – in 2019 while others were scheduled for Senegal, Guinea and Niger later in the year.
He assured participants at the forum that the court was working on regional legal aid scheme for indigent citizens and other initiatives to improve access to the Court’s E-filing platform.
He said that the act would encourage remote filing of cases without having to come to the headquarters of the ECOWAS Court in Abuja.
“The Court is also working towards reviving its moot court programme in 2020 that was suspended some years ago for logistic reasons.
“Hope that this and other initiatives will help deepen the knowledge of Community Law among the relevant stakeholders.” the President added.
He expressed optimism that through the programme, the Court would further demonstrate its determination to position law students in community law and equip them better for practice, particularly with the Court.
He explained that the forum was designed to tackle specific needs of lawyers and students and create platform for them to familiarize themselves with Court’s presentation and practice.
He noted that such would deepen knowledge of Lawyers, law lecturers and students on human rights jurisprudence of the Court and enhance their understanding of community Law among critical stakeholders.
The president further said the programme had been tailored to focus on mandate and procedure of the court, on how to file cases, representation before Court, privileges and immunities of Lawyers.
Meanwhile, Ovadje in the statement quoted the President of the Cote d’Ivoire Bar Association, Mr N’dri Thomas, to have described the cause as means to deepen Lawyers knowledge on community Law.
According to Thomas, as principal actors in the public service of justice, the campaign reminds us of the unexplored areas that will broaden our horizon, particularly in area of human rights.
Ovadje further said the delegation of the Court which include judges and staff, visited the National Council on Human Rights in that country and were received by President Madam Namizata Sangare.
Sangare, in the statement said explained Council to consist all human rights, including rights of foreigners and those in prison and that it publishes annual report on the state of human rights.