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Judges Agree To Reposition ECOWAS Court



Hon. Justice Edward Amoako Asante

Hon. Justice Edward Amoako Asante, President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, has stated his commitment to putting the suggestions from the Judges’ Retreat into action, which took place from November 15 to November 19, 2023, at Global Village Suites in Nasarawa, a federated state of Nigeria.

In his remarks at the retreat’s closing ceremony, Justice Asante described the retreat as “extremely successful” and “among the best retreats organised by the Court.”

He stressed that the recommendations adopted will make it possible for the Court to adopt additional Practice Directions to guide parties and lawyers appearing before the Court and the Court’s Registry on some matters on which the Rules of the Court are unclear.

The Judges Retreat under the theme “Strengthening the ECOWAS Court of Justice”, focused on various issues relating to the judicial practice of the Court.

The participants including the judges of the Court, as well as directors and legal officers, reviewed the Rules of Procedure of the Court on aspects which seemed ambiguous, and which posed problems of implementation.

Among the provisions examined were the Rules governing the award of compensation, the processing of requests for extension of time, the management of requests for judgment by default, and the consolidation of cases.

Participants also discussed guidelines on the scheduling of cases, handling of preliminary objections, and the currency in which compensation should be awarded.

The Vice-President of the Court, Hon Justice Gbéri-Bè Ouattara also delivered a vote of thanks during the closing ceremony. He expressed his gratitude to all participants for their zeal and commitment to the objectives of the retreat.

He commended them for their immense contribution and their diligence which resulted in relevant recommendations and resolutions.


Commonwealth Unveils New Framework For 56 Member States At COP28




The Commonwealth has launched a new implementation framework to facilitate coordinated action among the 56 Commonwealth countries, including African member states, on land, biodiversity, and climate challenges, directly impacting a quarter of the world’s land area.

A statement on Tuesday from the organisation said the latest framework was launched at the ongoing COP28.

The statement read: “The Commonwealth Secretariat unveiled the Living Lands Charter Implementation Framework at a high-level event on 3 December 2023 in Dubai, organised alongside the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28).

“The event comes after extensive consultations with Commonwealth countries since the adoption of the Living Lands Charter last year. It offered Commonwealth leaders, ministers, and development partners an opportunity to learn about the framework, share country experiences, and foster collaboration on land issues.”

According to the statement, speakers, including Prime Minister Robert Abela of Malta, and Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), expressed their support for the framework during the event.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, was quoted in the statement to have said:
“Our Commonwealth encompasses a quarter of the world’s land area and is home to a third of the world’s mega-biodiverse countries. More than 400 endemic species are found in our small island states.

“The impact of climate change is increasingly severe across our countries. Food insecurity is increasing. Soil is depleting. The sheer scale of these challenges compels us to lead with bold action.”

She added: “With this implementation framework, we are taking a giant leap forward. It will leverage the combined strength of the Commonwealth through thematic action working groups – learning from each other and spurring one another on towards systems change and a better future for all.”

The statement explained that the framework takes a system-wide approach towards implementing the Living Lands Charter through five thematic action areas: climate-resilient agriculture for food security; soil and water conservation; sustainable green cover and biodiversity; carbon neutral and climate-resilient livestock rearing and animal husbandry; and indigenous and local people for climate-resilient development.

It revealed that countries have stepped forward to lead on priority areas of action. Guyana will champion action on sustainable green cover and biodiversity. Kenya will lead action on climate-resilient agriculture for food security. Malta will spearhead the conservation of soil and water.

It added that within each thematic area, the Commonwealth will offer extensive support to countries to achieve their commitments, stating that this support entails mobilizing resources for implementation, conducting analyses for policymaking, facilitating institutional governance, offering capacity-building assistance, and generating knowledge for member countries.

Speaking at the event, Prime Minister Abela said: “The world is experiencing a triple planetary crisis, addressing climate change, protecting biodiversity, and nurturing ecological restoration of our land has become an urgent priority for all.
“As Commonwealth members, we are here to renew our commitment to work together towards this aim through the Call to Action on Living Lands [Charter]. We hope that our experience inspires Commonwealth countries facing similar tough challenges.”

The implementation framework, according to the statement, has been developed in response to a mandate from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in June 2022.

The Secretariat for the three Rio Conventions welcomed the framework and expressed confidence in its ability to help countries achieve targets set out in the Paris Agreement, the Global Biodiversity Framework, and the UNCCD Strategic Plan for Land Degradation Neutrality.

The statement further revealed that the framework’s launch coincides with the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action.

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Release 14 Inmates Detained Since 2018 By Togolese Government,  ECOWAS Court Orders




The ECOWAS Court has ordered the Togolese Republic to release without delay M. Adam Latif and 13 other inmates who were arrested in December 2018 amid planned demonstrations and have been detained since then.

The Applicants accused the Togolese Republic of violating their fundamental rights.

In the judgment delivered on November 30 by Justice Ricardo Claúdio Monteiro Gonçalves, judge rapporteur, the Court ordered the payment of 30 million francs CFA to each of the Applicants in compensation for the moral damage suffered due to the violation of their rights.

It held that the Respondent State violated the Applicants’ human right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment as well as their right not to be arbitrarily detained.

However, the West African Court declared the Respondent not responsible for the infringement of the presumption of innocence, as the Applicants’ allegations did not contain any argument consistent with the meaning of the right to the presumption of innocence.

In suit ECW/CCJ/APP/09/22, Adam Latif, along with 13 others, had applied to the Togolese Republic, alleging violations of their rights to physical and mental integrity following their arrests by state security forces.

They asserted infringements of their rights against torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and their rights to the presumption of innocence.

The Applicants had alleged that their arrests occurred amid planned demonstrations in December 2018, spurred by the Togolese authorities’ failure to implement the Global Political Agreement (GPA) – a reformative accord among the ruling party, the opposition, and civil society – and the recommendations of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (CVJR).

Despite the non-occurrence of the demonstrations, they were apprehended, charged, and subsequently inflicted with the alleged acts for confessions. They argued that these incidents, coupled with the extensive pre-trial detention, compromised their presumption of innocence and depicted the judicial system’s utilization for political gains.

The Applicants informed the investigating judge of the alleged violations and stressed that an impartial investigation should have been conducted immediately, as per the United Nations Convention against Torture.

However, he dismissed their reports, and their request for provisional release was systematically rejected, even after interventions of the Court of Appeal.

They told the Court that they sought the intervention of the Minister of Justice and the Head of State to no avail,and that they were held in detention for political reasons.

The 14 detainees prayed ECOWAS Court to order their immediate release and to mandate the Togolese Republic to carry out effective investigations to enable them initiate prosecutions against the alleged perpetrators of the violations. They also asked for 250 million FCFA each in compensation for the endured sufferings resulting from the alleged torture, arbitrary detention, and infringement of their rights to the presumption of innocence.

At its 25 September 2023 session, the Court had dismissed the Togolese Republic’s defense submitted after a year in disregard of article 35 of the Rule of Procedure of the Court which requires that defenses must be lodged within one month after the service of the application.

In its analysis, on the alleged violation of the right to physical and mental integrity and the right not to be subjected to acts of torture or to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, the Court considered that the Respondent failed to fulfill its obligations under Article 1 of the African Charter and Article 2 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to protect the Applicants against abuses resulting from the actions of its agents, since ‘it has not demonstrated that it adopted adequate measures to guarantee an independent and effective investigation into the complaint filed by the Applicants.

Also, in the absence of any evidence presented by the Respondent to justify that the Applicants’ arrests were following national or international law, the Court held that the Respondent violated the apApplicants’ight not to be arbitrarily detained.

Also in the three-member panel were Justices Edward Amoako Asante, Presiding, and Gbéri-bè Ouattara, Member.

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UK Commits £100m To Climate Change In Vulnerable Countries



Rishi Sunak

The United Kingdom Government has made commitments to help vulnerable countries strengthen their resilience to the increasingly frequent and severe effects of climate change. The commitment was made at the ongoing COP28 Summit in Dubai, UAE.


According to a statement, International Development and Africa Minister Andrew Mitchell announced £100 million to support some of the most climate-vulnerable countries to tackle climate change.


The statement stated that this will support an initiative to strengthen early warning systems in countries on the front line of climate change, giving people advanced warning of cyclones, flooding, and other extreme weather so they can move away from danger, saving lives and protecting vulnerable communities.


The statement added that the funding will also help make health care in these areas more resilient and able to withstand disasters, like floods, and ready to deal with spikes in infectious diseases, like cholera and malaria, due to floods caused by climate change.


Recognising the urgency of the situation, which forces 26 million into poverty every year, the UK Government also joined calls for bolder collective action to protect the lives, health, and livelihoods of those most impacted by climate change.


This supports the Prime Minister announcing major funding for climate projects and stressing the need for ambitious, innovative and pragmatic action.


International Development and Africa Minister Andrew Mitchell, said: “The devastating effects of climate change hit the most vulnerable the hardest.


“These funding commitments will help countries and people be better prepared and protected against extreme weather events and natural disasters. They will help roll out measures such as early warning systems and open up access to climate finance to build resilient health services.


“The UK will continue to press for a bold and ambitious approach to support those on the frontline of our changing climate, and to create a safer planet for us all.”


On behalf of the UK, Minister Mitchell endorsed the ‘Getting Ahead of Disasters’ Charter, the ‘COP28 Declaration on Relief, Recovery and Peace’, and the ‘COP28 Declaration on Climate and Health’.


Speaking at COP28, he outlined details of the funding package, which includes: Nearly £20 million for a package of disaster risk financing and early warning systems. This will help the one-third of the world’s population who are not covered by early warning systems to prepare for climate shocks and extreme weather, reducing disaster-related mortality and damage. It will also provide affordable insurance against climate disasters, such as droughts.


Funding of £36 million for climate action in the Middle East and North Africa to support long-term climate stability. This will mobilise $500 million for clean energy and green growth projects, support 450,000 people to adapt to climate change, and support 200,000 women in better protecting their families from climate shocks. This delivers on the UK’s commitment to scale up pre-arranged finance for crisis recovery.


Over £4.4 million to improve access to climate finance for Small Island Developing States and enable them to adapt to the impacts of climate change, with support from the Global Environment Facility’s Special Climate Change Fund and the Alliance of Small Island States.


Another £3 million for a new research hub in partnership with Canada, to help local communities address climate shocks and adapt to the long-term impacts of a changing climate. This will be delivered through the Climate Adaptation and Resilience (CLARE) programme, launched by the UK at COP26.


Up to £18 million for an innovative new programme to adapt and strengthen health systems. This will help partner countries manage the growing health impacts of climate change, from infectious diseases and food shortages to water insecurity and other health-related emergencies. It will be the first climate and health programme to be announced by a G7 country.


A further £20 million for a new research programme to guide the UK’s future work on climate-resilient health systems, recognising the fast-evolving agenda and the need for a stronger evidence base of what works to address the growing threats from climate change to health.


A total of £3 million for a new partnership with the International Rescue Committee to reduce the impact of climate-related crises on schools, students and communities. The Climate Resilient Education Systems Trial will build an evidence base of effective approaches to combatting climate change in and through education.


The statement said: At the COP28 Summit on Sunday (3 December), the UK convened experts and thought leaders for a panel discussion on climate security. It was the first time that the UK has hosted such an event, with the US, the EU, Iraq, Kenya, Mali, NATO, and the United Nations Development Programme in attendance. It aims to improve collective understanding of the security implications of climate change, including global instability and conflict while exploring best practices to respond to these risks through data-informed policy making, stress testing, analytical foresight capability, and international cooperation.

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