THE OPENING OF THE JUDICIAL YEAR OF THE AFRICAN COURT ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES` RIGHTS.African Court Coalition
The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights held its second solemn ceremony yesterday, 20 February 2023 to mark the official opening of its 2023 Judicial Year. This year’s ceremony under the theme “Integrating the jurisprudence of regional and international human rights mechanisms into national systems” was held at the African Court premises in Arusha, Tanzania. The guest of Honour to the ceremony was the Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania, H.E. Dr. Philip Isdor Mpango, who was accompanied by the Minister of Constitutional and Legal Affairs of the United Republic of Tanzania, Hon. Dr. Damas D. Ndumbaro.
The ceremony which was in hybrid form (physical and virtual participation) was well attended by different stakeholders including Civil Society and Non-government Organisations, government officials, representatives from regional and sub-regional courts, members of national judiciaries, representatives from African Union organs, academicians, and lawyers among others. The African Court Coalition was in attendance to the ceremony and was represented by the Coalition Coordinator, Ms. Sophia Ebby who also delivered a Goodwill message.
In his keynote address, the Vice President of Tanzania, Dr. Phillip Mpango addressed some concerns that State Parties to the African Court Protocol have by stating that; “Some member States have withdrawn their declarations and others are hesitant to make and deposit theirs. To address such glitches, it is my view that it is imperative for the Court to abide to its mandate and respect the sovereignty of member States while appreciating the diversity of legal processes in the continent. I wish to reaffirm that Tanzania remains committed to the mandate, objectives of the African Union and the implementation of Agenda 2063. We are committed to build strong African Institutions including the African Court”.
The Vice President also encouraged advocacies for the integration of the jurisprudence of regional and international human rights mechanisms into national systems and offered some suggestions through which such process can be achieved. He advised on the integration and the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in the Court systems to enable easy access of legal materials from other jurisdictions; and judicial dialogues that will bring together participants from different jurisdictions and legal systems which may contribute to cross-fertilization of ideas and trigger integration of regional and international human rights jurisprudence with national systems.
However, Dr. Mpango addressed a challenge that may be faced on the course of integrating the jurisprudence of regional and international human rights mechanisms into national systems. The Vice President stated that, “some judges may arbitrarily make reference and rely on decisions that are favourable to their opinions while glossing over the domestic context laws and procedures. Under such circumstances judges may refer certain decisions to justify their preconceived judgments instead of making an in-depth analysis of domestic precedents applicable to the case at hand”. To avoid such challenges in the integration process, the Vice President pointed out several cautions including; preservation of the autonomy of the national judiciary systems; and that the integration of jurisprudence of regional and international human rights mechanisms should be done with the view to preserve the rule of law.
As part of the ceremony, the African Court also hosted an Inter-generational Dialogue which was attended by different cadres of legal professions. The keynote presentation for the dialogue was given by Professor Issa Shivji and moderated by the Judge of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Lady Justice Tujilane Chizumila.
To see the full keynote speech of the guest of honor, H.E Dr. Phillip Mpango VISIT THIS LINK.