Towards a ‘Just’ Community : The Role of the East African Court o f Justice and National Courts in the Integration Agenda
Mukaindo, Petronella K.
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The research study, Towards a ‘ just ’ Community : The role of the E ast A frican C o urt of Justice and n ational c ourts in the i ntegrati on agenda , comes at an opportune moment as Partner States of the East African Community (EAC) immerse themselves deeper into the Community pool and oar their way towards the ultimate prize; a political federation. A departur e from previous studies whose main focus has been the C ourt’s jurisdictional limitations in areas such as human rights and commercial matters, this research study goes a step further to r ec ognise the significant role of n ati onal c ourts of Partner States in EAC’s integration process and their symbiotic relationship with the regional Court . The study proceeds from th e premise that the East African Court o f Justice ( EACJ ) is pivotal to the achievement of the Community’s objects and that the regional Court is not an island situated at Arusha; its effectiveness being largely dependent on other actors and factor s such as national judiciaries and citizens of Partner states. The same case applies to governments of Partner States wit hout whose political g ood will, the institutions and o rgans of th e C ommunity such as the EACJ would be unable to optimally discharge their respective mandates under the Treaty , hence derailing the integration process . The study acknowledges that jurisdiction is s ometimes not everything. There are other variables that wi ll determin e the success of the EACJ in shaping Community policies and ultimately in meeting Community objects as set out under the EAC Treaty . The author for instance notes that lack of express human rights jurisdiction in the EAC Treaty has not deterred the EACJ from adjudicating on matters touching on human rights , through progressive interpretation of existent Treaty provisions in cases presented before i t. Furthermore, the underutilis ation of some of the already existing j urisdiction in areas such as arbitration and preliminary references implies that there is more to the equation than mere articulation of jurisdiction on paper. Sometimes the answers to bigger problems lie in simple solutions . For instance, ultimately, potential consumers of justice h ave to be aware of the Court’s mandate and be willing to file cases before the regional C ourt. The Court must in addition possess the requisite capacity to process the array of legal issues in which it has jurisdiction and its O rders must be implemented an d enforced for the Court to have the desired impact . The study thus explores some of the threats and challenges fac ing the EACJ and also some of the opportunities and possible solutions . Anchored mainly on the EAC Treaty , supplemented by case law, policy documents , papers, reports coupled with comparative pe rspectives and stimulating discussions, the study steers the debate rega rding the role of the regional C ourt towards more practical issues; areas seemingly ‘obvious’ yet oft - overlooked.