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African Court Cautions Lawyers

Justice Sylvain Oré, President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights on Tuesday said the absence of equitable justice is often the source of conflict and massive violation of human rights.

He therefore urged, Lawyers on the African Court’s roster to be conversant with the practice before the continental Court which will undoubtedly make them spokespersons of African Human Rights law in their respective national judicial systems.

Justice Ore was speaking at the opening of three-day capacity training for over 30 Lawyers registered with the African Court to represent indigent Applicants in the continental Court’s judicial aspects and the legal aid scheme.

The three-day training from July 9 to 11 at Arusha, Tanzania, is the second being conducted by the African Court. The first was held in August last year where over 40 lawyers attended.

The African Court President noted that the right to benefit from Counsel pursuant to the practice of the African Court should no longer be compromised.

He said the seminar must therefore be considered as a link to the established between the African Court and nations which are the origin of legal issues and alleged human rights violations for which litigants have not been able to find remedy or satisfaction.

“On the one hand, you will be required to help the litigants, to acquire the necessary know how to effectively assist the Court in its mission of administration of justice,” Justice Ore stated.

Justice Ore explained that in almost a decade of application of different relevant instruments in procedure before the Continental Court, the African Court has undertaken the interpretation of many procedural and substantive provisions.

He stated that the Court has also attempted to innovate in cases where the law is silent and lacks precision, “this is common with international law whose objectives are quite subsidiary to those of national law and its application.

“It is the lively, changing, contextualized and applied rereading of the law of contentious matters before the African Court which you will be required to do during this training activity.

“After all, the daily practice of the law at the national level does not require the Counsel to deal with international law and its practice but more often or rather with domestic law as it regulates the life of citizens and the functioning of national institutions”.

He said failure to abide by rules and extend litigation unnecessarily and insufficient reference to the jurisprudence of the African Court in the drafting of subsequent judgments.

“I call on you to carry out not just a review but an in-depth discussion on the practice of the Court, from today, you will not only be Counsel on the roster of the African Court; you will also be the pioneers of a new generation of human rights defenders.

“It will be incumbent on you to promote the training of as many Counsels as possible on the continent who will become the limelight of procedure and the law before the African Court,” he said.