By Egide Lucky
The EACJ November session has started this November 8th and is being held in the Burundi supreme court offices in Bujumbura. Over 30 cases from partner states are expected to be heard until November 26th.
“The East African Court of Justice has decided to move from Arusha offices to Burundi to enhance its visibility,” said Nestor Kayobera, judge president of the EACJ on November 4th. The court has to be known by the population from partner states and local lawyers, he added.
He said that the court will try cases from the six partner states of the EACJ, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan.
“We have realized that many people do not bring or follow their cases as their means to travel to Arusha are limited. We invite them to come and see the status of their cases until November 26th,” he also said, adding that some judgements shall be pronounced at the end of November.
The judge president mentioned that the court will also pass by other partner states with the aim of approaching justice to the citizens, help them understand the competencies of the court and the role it plays in the regional integration.
According to justice Kayobera, the EACJ has received more than 500 cases since its creation in 2001, with 60 cases from Burundi: “300 cases among them have been handled and closed while 150 are pending”.
“The court faces several challenges among which is the non-execution of its judgements,” he said, as he called on the partner states to help put into effect the court’s verdicts.
The court session has followed the judicial symposium held on November 4th and 5th to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the East African Court of Justice.
Prosper Bazombanza, Burundi vice president said the court’s efforts to hold hearings in Burundi are considerable: “Both the first instance and the appellate divisions of the EACJ play a crucial role in getting justice closer to the East African people.”
He commended the court for its achievements: “It has already guaranteed respect for its treaty and fundamental principles including the rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights, natural resource and environmental protection.”
The Burundi vice president praised the opening of the EACJ sub-registries in the partner states. According to him, sub-registries help citizens submit cases in their countries instead of travelling to the court’s offices in Arusha, Tanzania.
The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) is a judicial organ of the East African Community (EAC). It was established on 30th November 2001. The court is made up of two divisions: a first instance division and an appellate division. Judges for both divisions are appointed by the EAC summit of Heads of State. It currently has 11 judges, six for the first instance division and five for the appellate one.