EACJ jurisdiction ‘should cover investment litigation’
Regional lawyers have added their voice to the push to have the jurisdiction of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) extended in a bid to effectively arbitrate in litigation relating to foreign investments.
A delegation of East African Law Society led by its chairman, James Mwamu on Friday paid a courtesy call on the EALA Speaker, Margaret Nantongo Zziwa to seek out possible initiatives on the matter.
The EALS President noted that it was vital to have the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC amended to pave way for the court to adjudicate on other issues, outside its strict human rights sphere of competence.
“Litigation is key and we feel the EACJ is currently limited in terms of its scope and operations,” he said.
“In addition to the human rights issues which interests EALS, the EAC has recently discovered quite some resources including oil and gas and naturally litigation is expected at some point as regional integration moves ahead,” he explained.
The EALA Speaker concurred with that view, remarking that the EACJ deserved more mandate as the integration process deepens. In attendance were Stephen Musisi, Vice President of EALS, Ruth Sebatindira, President of the Uganda Law Society and top officials of the EALS and ULS Secretariats.
On matters of human rights and democracy, the EALA Speaker lauded the EALS for their commitment to the ideals of the rule of law.
Speaker Zziwa maintained that the partner states were committed to the integration process, explaining that the bitterness on the Coalition of the Willing that sparked tensions over the past year was a ‘creation of the media.’
The integration process allows for bilateral engagements between partner states and this is normal. “We as an assembly are in support of a unified region,” she declared.
At the moment, the EACJ has initial jurisdiction over the application and interpretation of the Treaty as prescribed under Article 27.
In April 2012, the EALA passed a resolution seeking the council of ministers to implore the International Criminal Court (ICC) to transfer the cases of the Kenyans facing trial in respect of the aftermath of the 2007 General Elections to the Arusha based court.
The Resolution (then) moved by Dan Wandera Ogalo further appealed to the Summit of EAC Heads of State to make amendments to Article 27 of the Treaty and to give retrospective effect to the jurisdiction.
The EALS is an apex regional body of lawyers in the EAC with a membership of over 15,000. EALS is the largest professional organization in East Africa, with a focus on the professional development of its members as well as promotion of constitutionalism, democracy and good governance, the rule of law and the advancement, promotion and protection of human rights in East Africa and beyond.