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PostHeaderIcon Nominations and election of judges to the African Court

The Executive Council of the African Union Commission (AU) is due to appoint four judges to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Court) during its 25th Ordinary Session at the 23rd AU Summit in July 2014 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

The terms of the following four judges of the African Court will end in July 2014:
• Justice Sophia A.B Akuffo (Ghana)
• Justice Bernard Makgabo Ngoepe (South Africa)
• Justice Kimelabalou Aba (Togo)
• Justice Sylvain Ore (Cote d’Ivoire)

Among the four outgoing judges, only two are eligible for re-nomination and election only once, these are:
• Justice Kimelabalou Aba (Togo)
• Justice Sylvain Ore (Cote d’Ivoire)

The closing date for State Parties to submit nominations to the AU Office of the Legal Counsel is 30th April 2014.

 

CRITERIA, NOMINATION AND ELECTION

Criteria

The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Protocol) and the Rules of Procedure of the African Court provide for the criteria of judges to be elected to the African Court:
• The judges of the African Court must be jurists of high moral character, with recognised practical, judicial and academic experience in the field of human and peoples’ rights;
• The AU Executive Council should ensure that the bench as a whole has a gender and regional balance;
• No two judges can be from the same country however States Parties to the Protocol may each propose up to three candidates, at least two ofwhom shall be nationals of that State;
• The bench as a whole should have civil, common law, Islamic, African customary and traditional law experience. States Parties to the Protocol may each propose up to three candidates, at least two of whom shall be nationals of that State;
• In order to be compatible with impartiality and independence, a judge must not hold political, diplomatic or administrative positions or function as legal adviser at national level.

 

Nomination and Election

The election of judges to the African Court is by secret ballot by the AU Executive Council (Foreign Ministers). The AU Executive Council should ensure that there is a gender and regional balance.

 

Which States can nominate candidates?

Only state parties which have ratified the Protocol establishing the African Court can nominate candidates, these are: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Comoros, Congo Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Lesotho, Mali, Malawi, Mauritius, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. In light of the current judges at the African Court, nationals of the following countries cannot be elected: Algeria, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Senegal, Burundi and Kenya.

The African Court Coalition encourages you to engage in this process and approach your respective governments in providing names of suitable and qualified candidates in order to have an effective, independent and impartial African Court.

We further encourage a good number of nominations of qualified female lawyers as there are presently only two female judges of which one is an outgoing (Justice Sophia Akuffo who is also the current President of the Court).

Also please circulate this information within your networks as much as possible.

Visit the link below to find a call for Candidatures/Nominations - Election of the Judges of the African Court published by the African Union in English, French, Portuguese and Arabic.

 

Nomination and Appointment Process

Only a state that has ratified the Protocol creating the Court can nominate a candidate to be a judge to the Court. A state that has ratified the Protocol can nominate up to three candidates. At least one of those should be a woman. The nominations must be submitted to the AU Commission (the Office of the Legal Counsel) two months before the next AU Summit. There are two AU Summits each year - January and July.

The AU Commission shall send a list of all candidates to member states of the AU at least 30 days before the next ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government.

 

Election of Judges

The Executive Council of the AU, a body made up of Foreign Affairs ministers, elects the judges by secret ballot. The Assembly of Heads of State and Government appoints the elected judges.

Ordinarily, the judges serve a six-year term. They can serve a maximum of two consecutive terms.

The president of the Court is elected by the other judges for a two-year term, and may be re-elected for another two years.

The first president of the Court was Gérard Niyungeko of Burundi whose term as president began in July 2006. His deputy was Modibo Tounty Gouindo of Mali.

In the first six years of the Court, the terms of office were staggered to allow for smooth transition when new judges are elected. Four judges served a two-year term and four other judges are serving a four-year term.

The terms of Justices Akuffo, Ngoepe, Somda and Kanyiehamba expired in July 2008 after serving their two-year terms. The Executive Council of the AU, at its 13th Ordinary session in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, in June 2008 re-elected Judges Sophia Akuffo and Bernard Ngoepe. They elected two new judges, Githu Muigai, a practising lawyer and academic from Kenya and Joseph Mulenga, a judge at the East Africa Court of Justice and Supreme Court of Uganda.

At the end of the 15th AU Summit held in Kampala, Uganda, from 19-27 July 2010, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government has appointed the following persons as judges of the African Court who have been elected by the 17th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council held in Kampala from 22-23 July 2010:  Sylvain Ore, Ivory Coast (4 years); Fatsah Ouguergouz (re-elected), Algeria (6 years); Augustino S. L. Ramadhani, Tanzania (6 years); Duncan Tambala, Malawi (6 years); and Eisie Nwanwuri Thompson, Nigeria (6 years).

 

Current Judges

Gérard Niyungeko, Burundi (2006-2012), (President 2006-2008)
Modibo-Tounty Gouindo, Mali (2006-2012)
Jean Mutsunzi, Rwanda (2006-2012)
Sophia Akuffo, Ghana (2006-2008, 2008-2014)
Bernard Ngoepe, South Africa (2006-2008, 2008-2014)
Joseph Mulenga, Uganda (2008-2014)
Sylvain Ore, Ivory Coast (2010-2014);
Fatsah Ouguergouz, Algeria (2006-2010, 2010-2016);
Augustino S. L. Ramadhani, Tanzania (2010-2016);
Duncan Tambala, Malawi (2010-2016); and
Eisie Nwanwuri Thompson, Nigeria (2010-2016).

 

Former Judges

Hamdi Faraj Hanoush, Libya (2006-2010)
Kellelo Justina Mafoso-Guni, Lesotho (2006-2010)
El Hadji Guisse, Sénégal (2006-2010)
Jean Somda, Burkina Faso (2006-2008)
George Kanyiehambda, Uganda (2006-2008 )
Githu Muigai, Kenya (2008-2014) resigned June 2009.

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