The East African Community’s secretariat has been directed to develop a comprehensive technical paper that addresses both policy and legal issues related to the consideration for extending the jurisdiction of the East African Court of Justice.
The EAC’s Council of Ministers also directed the Sectoral Council on Legal and Judicial Affairs to meet by the end of July 2012 to consider the technical paper and report to the Council’s 25th Ordinary Meeting.
The subject of empowering the regional court by extending its jurisdiction to cover, among others, crimes against humanity topped the agenda at the EAC decision making organ’s meeting held here recently.
The move is part of implementing an April directive to the Council by the 10th Extraordinary Meeting of the EAC Summit of Heads of State to act on the matter.
At their April meeting, the EAC Heads of State welcomed a Resolution by the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) for expediting amendment of the EAC Treaty to extend jurisdiction of the EACJ or the conclusion of the protocol on this matter and consequently directed the Council of Ministers to see to its implementation and to report to an extraordinary Summit that would be convened thereafter.
The Council also adopted decisions of the Sectoral Council on Finance and Economic Affairs on Pre-Budget matters relating to the Common External Tariff (CET) during the same meeting.
The decisions taken on the CET by the Sectoral Council on Finance and Economic Affairs and subsequently pronounced in the Partner States’ Budget speeches required adoption by the Council of Ministers to enable gazettement as legal instruments of the Community.
The Sectoral Council on Legal and Judicial Affairs at its 12th Meeting observed that Article 27(2) of the Treaty obliges the Council of Ministers to determine such other original, appellate, human rights and other jurisdiction for the East African Court of Justice, the Community’s judicial organ.
This extended jurisdiction would be in addition to the Court of Justice’s initial jurisdiction over the interpretation of the Treaty.