Local importers and exporters have welcomed the establishment of sub-registries of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) in all East African Community member states.
The EACJ accepted to establish sub-registries in all capital cities of EAC member states to facilitate citizens with grievances instead of travelling to Arusha, Tanzania, where the court is apparently based.
The sub- registries will be established by the end of this year.
EACJ is the regional judicial body established to ensure the adherence of law in the interpretation and application of and compliance with the regional treaty.
Though the court is meant for every citizen in the region, transporters may benefit most as they face various challenges while travelling in other member countries.
“I wish they had come earlier because we normally face the challenge of making long distances to Arusha, Tanzania to report our cases,” said Theodore Murenzi, the Secretary General of Rwanda Truckers’ Association.
Some of the challenges that hinder the traders include robbery in other countries, corruption, non tariff barriers and others.
He said that earlier this year, one of their members was killed in Kisumu, western Kenya, noting that the case was mismanaged due to lack of a direct approach to the regional court.
Murenzi added that there was a need to sensitise citizens and create awareness on the operations of the court and the nature of cases it is supposed to adjudicate.
Abdul Ndarubogoye, an exporter, pointed out that some plaintiffs may not know the court’s ruling because of the distance, which he said would be made easier through the establishment of the sub-registries through which the rulings would be obtained.
“Recently, three of our trucks of tea were robbed in Kenya and we had nowhere to report.”
He added that the trucks were later found but the tea had already been looted.
He observed that with the establishment of subs- registries in the member countries, problems would be resolved coupled with bolstering of regional integration.
The registrar of EACJ, Dr John Ruhangisa disclosed in an interview that they were consulting with stakeholders on the establishment of the sub-registries, saying that they would be put in place in a few days.
“The reason for the establishment of sub-registries is to bring justice closer to the people and improve the profile and visibility of the court,” he noted.
According to Ruhangisa, the sub-registries will initially be located at national courthouses and manned by a clerk employed by the EACJ, and supervised by a Deputy Registrar of the national court to be nominated by the Chief Justice.
However, the court clerk manning the said sub registry would be answerable to the EACJ Registrar.
Meanwhile, Ruhangisa condemned member countries for undermining the court’s jurisdiction adding that this had prevented it from performing effectively.
“Its jurisdiction is limited to the interpretation of the treaty. This prevents the court from being as useful as the East Africans would have wished,” he noted.