East African Court of Justice Jurisdiction, by Justice Dr Emmanuel Ugirashebuja
Regional bodies have proved to have significant influence upon member states development: Be it in political, economic or social spheres, an integrated community thrives better. To Oil a moving regional community, is the realization of a regional court of justice. Better placed to put these concepts clear to the Strathmore Law School fraternity, was Justice Dr. Emmanuel Ugirashebuja- President of the East African Court of Justice.
The court established in 2001, is one of the organs under Article 9 of the East African Community Treaty. Amongst its major responsibilities is to ensure an adherence of law in the interpretation, application and compliance with the EAC Treaty.
In his key-note address, Dr. Ugirashebuja highlighted the uniqueness of the EACJ compared to other regional courts mentioning some of the factors which make EACJ standout such as: Local remedies need not be exhausted before approaching the court, petitioners need not be directly affected or even be in the country where the dispute occurred and lastly, petitioners who are presented as individuals are also entitled to hearing, contrary to other regional courts such as The European Court of Justice.
Apart from individuals, partner states as well as the Secretariat of the EAC are allowed access to the courts. However, no state party has instituted proceedings against a fellow state party yet, a situation he commented as respect to conflict avoidance.
Justice Dr. Ugirashebuja also mentioned that 90% of cases heard by the court are of a human rights nature, a field they do not express jurisdiction on. However, given the fact that several matters in the treaty touch on human rights, the court is compelled to hear.
All in all, the address by the Justice helped the law students appreciate the functions of the court as well as consider other areas of practice they could potentially pursue. He also invited students to pursue internship placements at the Courts headquarters in Arusha.