EACJ scraps legal fees for partner states

EACJ scraps legal fees for partner states
East African Community Court of Justice (EACJ) judges. [Photo Credit: Daily News (DN)]

The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) has removed case filing fees for citizens of the East African Community partner states.

Speaking during the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) on Friday last week, the Vice President of Burundi Prosper Bazombanza said that the court had removed case filing fees to reduce travelling costs for partner states.

Moreover, he revealed that the regional court had established its sub-registries in partner states to avoid the challenges of travelling to Arusha for the purposes of filing a case.

“The East African Court of Justice also scrapped off case filing fees in order to allow East Africans file cases freely,” said Bazombanza.

“Yet another significant development is the development of e-filling, case management and recording systems which enabled it to work even during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Vice President launched the EACJ Strategic Plan 2018-2023 and volume 3 of the EACJ Law Reports for the period 2015-2017 that has reports of 1,088 cases.

He added that the Republic of Burundi had given its pledges to strengthen the East African Court of Justice in executing its duties.

Vice President Prosper Bazombanza acknowledged the court for remarkable achievements since its founding in 2001.

The Vice President appreciated the court decision to hold its sessions in Bujumbura from November 8, 2021, to November 26, 2021, calling it bringing justice closer to people.

“The court’s decision to sit here over the next few weeks is, therefore, a pragmatic approach in the dispensation of justice,” said Bazombanza.

“The brave decision helps take the court to citizens and in so doing, broaden and bolden their perspective of integration on the one side while reassuring them of adherence to the rule of law and administration of justice.”

EACJ reputation

The EAC Secretary General Dr. Peter Mathuki said that the court had earned itself a good reputation as a trustworthy institution by stakeholders, the private sector, civil society, partner states governments and EAC Organs and Institutions.

EACJ Judge President Hon. Nestor Kayobera said that out of 500 cases filed over the 20 years, 300 cases had been determined as 150 cases await determination.

South Sudan was mentioned as the first to file a case yet has no judge in the EACJ because the court is entitled to only five judges since South Sudan joined late.

Dr. Mathuki said in his speech that the secretariat would be committed to consider the pending issues affecting the performance of the court.

He said that there should be full time service of judges to ensure administration of justice swiftly and availing funding for the court and granting the court full financial and administrative autonomy.

The Speaker of East African Legislative Assembly Hon. Martin Ngoga also appreciated the court for proper interpretation and application of the treaty irrespective of challenges of jurisdiction and budget.

He said that numerous resolutions had been passed by the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) for better performance of the court.

Regional Court (EACJ)

East African Court of Justice is an organ of the East African Community which was established under Article 9 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.

It was established in November 2001 with the major responsibility of enduring that there is adherence to law in its interpretation and application in compliance with the East African Community Treaty.

The court seat is temporarily in Arusha Tanzania until its final destination is determined in a summit. It has sub-registries in the National Courts of its partner states.

The Judges of this court are said to be appointed by Heads of State in a Summit especially those holding high judicial office or jurists whose competence is highly recognized as recommended by the partner state to the East African Community.

It is comprised of eleven judges currently serving both in the First Instance Division that is headed by a Principal Judge and an Appellate Division that works directly with the President.

The President of the Court is designated in a summit from Judges of the Appellate Division which is done on a rotational basis.

The Vice President, Principal Judge and Deputy Principal Judge are also designated by the Summit on a rotational basis meanwhile they should not be nationals of the same partner state.

All Judges are said to be serving on an ad hoc basis except the President and Principal Judge who hold office for a period of seven years or after attaining seventy years.

EACJ Judges

Appellate Division currently has the following judges Justice Dr. Emmanuel Ugirashebuja as the Judge President, Hon. Justice Liboire Nkurunziza as Vice-President of the Court, Justice Aaron Ringera, Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire and Lady Justice Sauda Mjasiri.

The First Instance Division has the following Judges: Hon. Lady Justice Monica Mugenyi as the Principal Judge, Justice Audace Ngiye, Justice Dr Charles Oyo Nyawello and Hon Justice Charles Oyako Nyachae.