Uganda: Kadaga Underscores Role of East African Court of Justice in Promoting Integration

The First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community Affairs Rebecca Kadaga said the East African Court of Justice(EACJ) has played a crucial role in promoting the integration of the East African Community.

The First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community Affairs Rebecca Kadaga said the East African Court of Justice(EACJ) has played a crucial role in promoting the integration of the East African Community.

“The EACJ has since its inception done a commendable job in passing judgements that have impacted human rights jurisprudence within the region and beyond as well as strengthening the East Africa Community. It is therefore our noble obligation as citizens of the East African community to relentlessly support this court for the meaningful realization of the integration agenda,” Kadaga said.

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She was speaking during the opening ceremony of the three day annual East African Court of Justice judicial conference at Mestil Hotel in Kampala on Wednesday.

Kadaga noted that the East African Community (EAC) bloc has had its membership grown in heights and bounds especially with the recent admission of the Democratic Republic of Congo, culminating into an aggregate population of approximately 300 million persons.

She noted that this calls for heightened and structured cooperation as members of the community.

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According to Kadaga, the treaty for the establishment of the East African espouses good governance and rule of law as cornerstones to sound regional integration and development, adding that the same treaty provides for the establishment of the East African Court of Justice as a judicial organ of the community.

“The core mandate of this court is the interpretation and application of the treaty. This is very instrumental in consolidating the EAC regional integration agenda through enhancing access to justice and ultimately concretizing investment.”

She noted that the EACJ judicial conference is an opportunity for member states to devise mechanisms for ensuring systematic dispensation of justice at both the national and regional levels.

“Suffice to note that this conference seeks to strengthen collaboration between the national judiciaries and the East African court of Justice, increase awareness among the judges, judicial officers and legal practitioners in the region on their role in enhancing access to justice by the citizenry, including the business community, who are most affected by cross-border engagements. Indeed, the EAC integration agenda is people driven and market centered. This conference is therefore a means of popularizing and bringing the court closer to the people.”

The president of the East African Court of Justice, Nestor Kayobera noted that the court has the first instance division and the appellate division.

“The first instance hears and determines cases at first instance, subject to a right of appeal to the appellate division. Currently six judges serve at the first instance and five at the appellate division,”Kayobera said.

He however noted that the East African Community treaty provides for a maximum of 15 judges, 10 for the first instance and five for the appellant division.

“From July 2021 to October 2022, the first instance division has received a total of 116 cases while the appellate division received around 42 cases. The court’s growth has therefore flourished in these 21 years of its existence.”

Reasoning with the conference’s theme of “transforming access to justice”, Justice Imani Daud Aboud, the president of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights said tangible results ought to come out of the three day meeting.

“Transformation means positive change. The change desired from this conference is one that will ensure access to justice for citizens of the East African Community. Transformation is an ongoing process and a number of challenges still stand in the way in ensuring access to justice. This conference should help address some of these,” Justice Aboud said.

“Lawyers should be encouraged to speak to communities about services they provide to people. There should be legal services to those communities that can’t afford them.”

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