EAC Court launches Kigali registry office
The Principal Judge of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ), Justice Johnston Busingye, has revealed that Rwandans will no longer have to travel to Arusha’s regional court to settle disputes, following the establishment of a sub-registry in Kigali.
The sub-registry offices are within the offices of the High Court premises in Kimihurura.
We have done it in Kenya and it doesn’t involve a lot of logistics
The sub-registry that will be officially launched by EAC officials and others from the judicial sector on Friday next week, aims at facilitating citizens to avoid travel costs to the Arusha headquarters.
EACJ is the regional judicial body established to ensure the adherence of law in the interpretation, application and compliance with the regional treaty.
“Rwandans do not have to buy air tickets to go to Arusha. If one has a dispute that he or she needs to be settled in this court, he or she should just file the reference here”, explained Justice Busingye.
After filing a reference, there is a sub-registrar who is supposed to receive the cases and then transfers files to the Arusha based EACJ headquarters.
Who is eligible to file a reference?
Article 30 of the treaty for the establishment of the EAC stipulates that any person who is a resident in a partner state is qualified to drag anybody, a member state or EAC body, that does an action that is unlawful or infringes on the provisions of the treaty.
Article 28 also specifies that a partner state which considers that another partner state or any organ or institution of the community has failed to fulfill an obligation under the treaty or has infringed a provision of the treaty, may refer the matter to the court for adjudication.
The treaty also under article 29 gives the Secretary General obligation to litigate any member state that fails to fulfill the obligation under the treaty or infringed a provision of the treaty.
Justice Busingye revealed that the court intends to embark on a mobile way of resolving disputes among the member states. In this case, Judges of EACJ travel to a certain member state to hear the disputes.
“We have done it in Kenya and it doesn’t involve a lot of logistics. Therefore, we intend to strengthen this process with the aim of assisting the citizens of the region”, he said.
However, though the sub-registry will be officially launched, it has been in existence for four months now and it has never received any reference.
Members of the court and the East African Legislative Assembly have previously accused member states of not referring cases to it yet the court has built capacity to handle regional disputes.
This year, the Arusha based court has received 30 cases, and according to the court’s Principal Judge, as integration deepens, more transactions will increase, thus resulting in more disputes.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of EAC, Amb. William Kayonga, pointed out that after the official launching of the sub-registry, they will embark on awareness campaigns to get nationals to become well acquainted with the importance of this sub-registry.
“I wish they had come earlier because we normally face challenges involving travelling long distances to Arusha to report our cases,” said Theodore Murenzi, the Secretary General of Rwanda Truckers’ Association.
Abdul Ndarubogoye, another exporter, pointed out that some plaintiffs sometimes are not aware whether the ruling was made because they don’t live in Arusha.
The court has two permanent judges including Justice Harold Reginald Nsekera who is the President of the court and Busingye.
The decision to have permanent residence of judges in the regional court was taken in 2011 during a Heads of State summit in Bujumbura, Burundi.
The decision was taken after it was noted that cases have been pending in both First Instances and Appellate Divisions because the judges spend more time dispensing justice in their own countries, while they gave little time and attention to the region’s judicial body.
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