One of the sub-region’s leading campaigners for free expression and free press, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) last week raised fears that the non-implementation of the decisions of the Community Court of Justice is bound to affect public confidence in the Court as an effective institution in the protection of human rights within the region.
The MFWA made its concerns known at a regional Civil Society forum it organised on “Enforcement of Judgements of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice & Implications on Democracy and Human Rights in West Africa”, held on July 30th, 2012 at the ECOWAS parliament in the Nigerian Capital, Abuja.
The Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the MFWA, Mr. Edet Ojo, in his welcome remarks, indicated that among judgements that have not been implemented by member states are two successfully litigated by the MFWA against the Government of The Gambia on behalf of two Gambian journalists.
The ECOWAS Court in 2008 ruled against the Gambia government ordering it to release immediately disappeared journalists Chief Ebrima B. Manneh, a journalist at the pro-government newspaper, the Daily Observer. The court also ruled he be compensated US $100, 000 for damages.
|Musa Saidykhan, erstwhile Editor of The Independent|
In 2011, the same court awarded US$200,000 to tortured Gambian journalist Musa Saidykhan, an editor-in-chief of the banned Independent newspaper. Both judgements are yet to be implemented.
“Though the ECOWAS Court has proved to be one of the major regional human rights mechanisms, its effectiveness has been weakened by challenges over implementation of its judgements by offending member states,” admits Justice Awa Nana Daboya, President of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice. She said giving decisions is not the end as citizens must be satisfied before justice can be said to have been attained.
She reiterated that the non- implementation of the Court’s decision is a violation of member states’ obligation under the ECOWAS treaty and called for financial sanctions on ECOWAS member States who fail to comply with the decision of the Court.
“Other member states of ECOWAS should be called upon to emulate Guinea, Niger and Nigeria who have designated appropriate national institutions to ensure the enforcement of the court’s judgments in accordance with Article 24 of the amended Protocol of the Court,” said renowned Human Rights lawyer and Activists, Mr. Femi Falana, who chaired the forum.
An August 2 press statement from the MFWA said the forum culminated in the adopted of a resolution aimed at supporting the work of the ECOWAS Commission on human rights promotion and protection within the community.
“The MFWA will be following up with a formal presentation of the Abuja Declaration to the Commission,” the statement said.
Written by Modou S. Joof
Follow on Facebook: The-North-Bank-Evening-Standard