TIME TAKEN to dispose of cases received by the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) has greatly improved and would even be faster if there were less intermediary proceedings, the registrar of the court has said.
Yufnalis Okubo, who spoke to The New Times at the end of a weeklong training programme – that saw the country’s state attorneys learn how proceedings at the regional court are conducted, last Friday – that the cases are normally delayed by the lawyers who he said usually have too many applications.
He said the number of cases filed with the court continues to increase, something that he attributed to an improved understanding of individual rights.
“Last year, we received about 46 cases and the disposable rate is about half of that. If there are no intermediary cases in between, by the end of this year, all the cases received shall be disposed of. The number of people filing cases with our court is growing which is a sign that people know their rights according to the East African Treaty. This January alone, we received ten cases,” Okubo said.
He said information and communication technology has improved the pace at which files move, adding that cases can now be filed in any EAC member state.
“We have automated our system which means that you don’t even have to come to Arusha [in Tanzania], we have a branch in each country, so that means that once someone files a case today, I will get it within a minute and I will put an electronic signature and you can serve the papers the same day. If that person also files their defence within a week, I can assure you that within a month, we can be ready for hearing,” he explained.
Okubo applauded the state attorneys, saying interacting with them had benefitted both the trainers and the trainees.
EACJ contribution lauded
The head of legal service and principal state attorney at the Ministry of Justice, Theophile Mbonera, expressed pride in the contribution the EAC court is making in delivering justice in the region.
He said changes in the judicial system continue to require more capacity building programmes like the training that they had just concluded.
“There are changes in the judicial system and increasing case loads on more complex issues has increased the demand and the need for training in both common and civil law systems. We are sure that this training will help you make valuable contributions to your institutions because of the skills that you gained,” Mbonera said.
Addressing participants, Kennedy Nkusi, an international law expert, said the training was “a moment of insight and enlightenment” because some of the modules were new to most of them.
“I can’t necessarily say that we are fully knowledgeable about the procedures but we have learned a lot and we need to learn more,” he said.
After Rwanda, the training programme moves to Burundi because, unlike Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, the former practice Civil instead of Common Law.