Strengthening cooperation between the East African Court of Justice and national courts will benefit East African community Citizens and accelerate regional integration, Dr Emmanuel Ugirashebuja, President of the East African Court of Justice, has said.
He was speaking during a three-day workshop that opened Monday in Kigali that brought together judges from national courts and attorneys from East African Community.
The workshop is discussing the role of judiciaries in EAC integration process, how judges of national courts as well as EAC citizens can make use of the East African Court of Justice as well as looking at how to strengthen cooperation among regional courts.
“Regional and International courts are expected to come up with solutions to legal controversies that the negotiating parties failed to address. We are obliged to further promote the potential of integration through interpretation of EAC integration treaty where laws harmonization is part of it. That is why EAC citizens will benefit from the process as they enjoy free movement across the region,” he said.
“People from all countries of East African Community bring their cases to us and so far many cases have come from Kenya and only six cases have come from Rwanda. Most of the cases are about respecting the rule of law and good governance. The courts have their role in strengthening economic and political stability in the region”.
However, Ugirashebuja said they still have challenges such as lack of permanent judges and a permanent seat.
Charles Kaliwabo, the president of High Court in Rwanda who spoke on behalf of Chief Justice Sam Rugege, said courts provide guarantees that laws are implemented and that they are part of EAC to make sure laws are harmonized to benefit citizens.
“As we combine efforts in development of different sectors under regional integration, disputes also occur and therefore courts are there to intervene. EAC citizens benefit from this harmonization process because, for instance, any business people can freely move across the region and get benefit from harmonized laws in order to develop themselves,” he said.
We wish that judgements by East Africa Court of Justice are shared with national courts in member states so as to make use of them, he added.