African Court gets new judges

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By LUCAS BARASA
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Two new judges have been appointed to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The Justices Bensaoula Chafika from Algeria and Chizumila Rose Tujilane were endorsed during the 28th Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from January 30 to January 31.

The duo are to serve for six years, a statement from the Arusha based court said.

The two are replacing Justice Fatsah Ouguergouz (Algeria) and Justice Duncan Tambala (Malawi) whose term came to an end in September, 2016.

The two Judges will be sworn-in during the 44th Ordinary Session of the Court which begins on March 6, 2017 in Arusha, Tanzania.

For the first time in the history of the Court, there will be five female judges sitting on the 11-member court.

The increased number of female Judges is the fulfilment of the adequate representation provided for in Article 12(2) and Article 14(3) of the Protocol establishing the court.

The swearing in ceremony will be held at the Kibo Hall at the African Court premises at the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) building, Burka area, along Dodoma Road and members of the public have been invited..

The court is composed of 11 judges, nationals of Member States of the African Union elected in their individual capacity. The Judges are elected for a period of six years and can be re-elected for second and final term of another six years.

The Court meets four times a year in Ordinary Sessions and may hold Extra-Ordinary Sessions.

Up to January 31, the Court had received 125 applications of which 32 have been finalized. Four applications have been transferred to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Meanwhile, Chief Justice David Maraga visited the African Court this week to familiarise himself with its work.

Mr Justice Maraga who held talks with the Court’s President Sylvain Ore said he was happy with the institution efforts to ensure justice in the continent.

He said Kenya will continue supporting the Court’s work but it was the government’s role to make a declaration to allow its citizens and NGOs access it.

He was confident Kenya will make the declaration.

Pan African Lawyers Union official Donald Deya hailed Justice Maraga’s visit saying it signalled increased support for the Court’s work and recognition.

He asked other countries to also send representatives to familiarise themselves with the operation of the Arusha based Court.He urged African countries to allow individuals and NGOs to file cases in the court.

Only seven countries have allowed NGOs and individuals to use the court in search of justice.

The countries are Burkina Faso, Benin, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Malawi and Tanzania.

The court celebrated 10 years last year.

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