Retired Sierra Leonean President Ernest Bai Koroma has called for strengthening judicial systems that in turn limit the risk of institutional and state capture.
President Koroma made these remarks on Thursday during afamiliarisation tour of the East African Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
According to Koroma,regional courts such as the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) complement national courts in upholding the rule of law and the respect for human rights thereby sustaining the growth of democracy on the continent.
These regional courts offer citizens alternatives for redress where they feel aggrieved. Koroma added that credible judicial systems would advance the cause of democracy in Africa.
President Koroma urged the EACJ, the Arusha-based judicial arm of the East African Community (EAC), to stick to the law while interpreting the EAC Treaty and ensure that there is justice and fair play in handling cases filed before it.
Koroma led a powerful delegation composed of H.E. Joaquim Chissano, former President of Mozambique, and H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia.
Retired Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano said that courts were critical to combating corruption, promoting respect for human rights and acting as arbiters in conflicts and disputes.
Former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn noted that existing regional mechanisms including the EACJ should be properly funded to enable them execute their mandates effectively.
Nestor Kayobera the EACJ Judge President told the visiting former leaders that the EACJ Court is a stakeholder in matters concerning good governance across the region.
“Our role includes upholding the principles of democracy, the rule of law, accountability, transparency, social justice, gender equality, and promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights in accordance with the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights as enshrined under Article 6(d) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community,” said Justice Kayobera.
“Where any of these principles are violated by the EAC Partner States, the Organs and Institutions of the Community, legal or natural persons resident in the EAC, can bring a complaint to the EACJ without being required to exhaust local remedies,” said the Judge President.
“However, the time limit to file a case is within 60 days when the complaint arose or when it came to the knowledge of the complainant, and no fees are charged for filing a case,” added Justice Kayobera.
“Majority of the cases filed in this Court are based on these principles, which is why I am proud to say that the EACJ is a stakeholder in good governance and democracy,” he added.