Covid-19: ECOWAS Court Suspends Judicial Activities

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The ECOWAS Court of Justice has suspended ‘until further notice,’ its judicial activities for the next few weeks as part of measures to prevent and contain the spread of the Corona Virus, COVID-19, according to a statement issued on Friday by court’s President, Justice Edward Asante.

The court’s spokesperson, Elohor Ovadje said the statement by the court’s President comes less than a week after the court suspended its travel-related activities, mainly official missions, because of the outbreak of Covid-19 following its declaration as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Ovadje quoted Justice Asante as saying that the court “remains committed to ensuring the safety of staff and other stakeholders.

“The court will take all necessary preventive and containment measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

Asante urged staff not to panic but to ensure that they remain calm, healthy and go about their duties whilst ‘maintaining personal hygiene and social distancing in a professional manner.

The president also stated that the court’s Registry and all other departments will carry out their duties on a shift basis to decongest the offices in order to create the necessary distancing recommended by WAHO and the WHO. In this instance, staffs who work from home will liaise with their departmental Supervisors and report to them via the electronic means put in place by ECOWAS Institutions; skype, emails etc.

In suspending the court’s travel related activities, the President had emphasized that the court did not want to expose staff to ‘avoidable risk considering the global threat posed by this pandemic. He added that it was also consistent with the international response including the advisories by West African Health Organisation (WAHO) based in Bobbo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso and later the ECOWAS Commission.

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Under the advisory, the ECOWAS Commission and Community Institutions were advised to strongly discourage non-essential large gatherings of people; defer, cancel or postpone meetings with over 50 participants until further notice and employ remote technology if possible (Zoom, Skype, etc.) to help avoid the spread of coronavirus.

Among the activities affected by the suspension of the travel related activities are the second judicial dialogue of the Court with the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights initially scheduled for 27th and 28th March in Arusha as well as the preceding training of the Court’s office managers which was scheduled to start on 16th March 2020 also in Arusha.

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