EAC Secretary General sued over delay in extending EACJ Jurisdiction

Arusha, 23 August 2013: The First Instance Division today heard a matter filed in June 2012 by Hon. Sitenda Sebalu, a Member of Parliament in the Republic of Uganda, against the Secretary General (SG) of the East African Community for alleged failure of the Council of Ministers/ Sectoral Council of Legal and Judicial Affairs to implement the judgment delivered by EACJ in a previous case involving the same Parties. The Court had ordered that quick action should be taken by the EAC in order to operationalise the extended jurisdiction of the Court under Article 27of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.

The Advocates for the Applicant, Mr. Chris Bakiza and Mr. Justin Semuyaba submitted that, close to one year after the judgment was delivered (on 30th June 2011), the Applicant felt a need to come back to Court. It is a contravention of the Treaty for the Sectoral Council to exclude the Appellate and the Human Rights jurisdiction from the Protocol to operationalise the extended jurisdiction of the EACJ, saying that while Partner States have adopted the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), most of them have not deposited the necessary declaration, thus hampering East Africans from accessing the Court. They emphasized that Human Rights is one of the fundamental principles governing the Community on good governance including adherence to the principles of democracy and rule of law under Article 6 (d) of the Treaty and failure to extend the jurisdiction of the Court was in breach of the Treaty.

Mr. Bakiza also asked the Court to find that the Secretary General violated the orders of the Court for payment of USD 52,534.10 which the Court had ordered the Secretary General to pay in the previous dispute as costs to the Applicant.

Hon. Wilbert Kaahwa, Counsel for the Respondent, the EAC Secretary General, submitted that, the zero protocol on the extended jurisdiction is in the process of being enacted and that the Council of Ministers is in the process of implementing Article 27 of the Treaty, regarding the extended jurisdiction of the EACJ. However he said that the process has delayed due to further actions required to be done by the Policy Organs which is not in any way of breach of the Treaty.

Hon. Kaahwa also said that on the payment of Costs by the Secretary General as ordered, the Council of Ministers was aware of the issue and was in the process of addressing it. He therefore asked the Court to dismiss the matter as the Applicant had no case which the Court could address

The Court will deliver the judgement on notice.

Note to Editors:

Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community

    Article 6(d) Good governance including adherence to the principles of democracy, the rule of law, accountability, transparency, social justice, equal opportunities, gender equality, as well as the recognition, promotion and protect ion of human and people’s rights in accordance with the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights;
    Article 7(2) The Partner States undertake to abide by the principles of good governance, including adherence to the principles of democracy, the rule of law, social justice and the maintenance of universally accepted standards of human rights.
    Article 27(1) The Court shall initially have jurisdiction over the interpretation and application of this Treaty: Provided that the Court’s jurisdiction to interpret under this paragraph shall not include the application of any such interpretation to jurisdiction conferred by the Treaty on organs of Partner States.
    Article 27(2) The Court shall have such other original, appellate, human right s and other jurisdiction as will be determined by the Council at a suitable subsequent date. To this end, the Partner States shall conclude a protocol to operationalize the extended jurisdiction.

About the EACJ:

The East African Court of Justice (EACJ or ‘the Court’), is one of the organs of the East African Community established under Article 9 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community. Established in November 2001, the Court’s major responsibility is to ensure the adherence to law in the interpretation and application of and compliance with the EAC Treaty.

Arusha is the temporary seat of the Court until the Summit determines its permanent seat. The High Courts of the Partner States serve as sub-registries.

For more information please contact:

Prof. John Ruhangisa, Registrar
Email: ruhangisa@eachq.org

Ms. Geraldine Umugwaneza, Deputy Registrar
Email: umugwaneza@eachq.org

Owora Richard Othieno, Head of Department;
Corporate Communications and Public Affairs;
EAC Secretariat
Tel: +255 784 835021; Email: othieno@eachq.org

East African Court of Justice
Arusha, Tanzania
http://www.eacj.org

Comments are closed.