NAIROBI - The East African Community (EAC) has now embarked on designing a hybrid court system that will ease litigation for cross border disputes for citizens in the region.
Speaking during a meeting for registrars and court administrators on the establishment of sub registries for the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) on Thursday, John Ruhangisa explained that the registries would be set up in each of the five capitals of the East African partner states.
Mr Ruhangisa, who is a registrar of the EACJ, added that the registries would all be synchronised to ensure cases were not double-filed.
“This means that if a Kenyan is for example involved in a legal tussle with a Tanzanian, he will not have to go to Arusha to open the case in the main register of the EACJ. He can go to the nearest registry which will be the one in Nairobi,” he explained.
He added that the financial implications and logistical modalities of setting up the registries were currently being considered.
“This will not be cheap; it means we have to have staff on the ground. What staff are we talking about? Should they be employed by the community or should the national judiciaries come in and assist? Proper infrastructure and equipment needs to be put in place,” he said.
On his part, EAC Ministry Permanent Secretary David Nalo urged the court organs that would be created to be people-cantered. He argued that it would be the only way of taking justice to the grassroots.
“The East African Community is not for ‘we’ who work in government. It is not for ‘we’ who sit in the court of justice but it is for the majority of the people; the ordinary person on whose behalf we are performing our duties,” he said.
He also called for the inclusion of industrial and commercial courts into the EACJ saying the move would help facilitate the smooth integration of the EAC.
“It is important to consider this within the operations of the EAC deliberations and I would like to ask the EACJ to involve the respective ministries of the EAC in coordinating this invitation to the relevant institutions,” he said.
Mr Nalo also asked the court to promote and safeguard human rights in the region: “This is crucial as we implement the Common Market protocol. For instance the free movement of persons across the border is likely to be associated with new forms of crime and human right abuse like the recent albino case.”
He further explained that the court systems would help stabilise the region and even help Kenya achieve her long term Vision 2030 plan.
The EACJ is the judicial organ of the East African Community and is based in Arusha, Tanzania. Its first session outside Arusha was held in Nairobi where it delivered a judgment in favour of two Cabinet Ministers and nine other persons against Attorney General Amos Wako.