Judges of the Arusha-based East African Court of Justice (EACJ) are in good position to discern the bumpy aspects of the East African Common Market Protocol after exposure to how the European Court of Justice works, Justice Harold Nsekela has said.
Justice Nsekela, who is the president of the court, was commenting on a recent training for the judges held in Zanzibar that exposed them on how the European Court of Justice worked within the broader European integration process, a course East Africa too is pursuing.
“We are now in better position to appreciate the delicate aspects of the Common Market after the three-day training. We have learned about the bad and good experiences from the European Union, which no doubt carry a lot of synergies with our own implementation of the Common Market treaty,” said Nsekela. The training started on July 23, 2012.
Nine out of ten EACJ judges attended the course facilitated by Justice Ms Kristine Kruma from the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia, from its First Instance Division and the Appellate Division. Justice Ms Kruma has wide ranging experience about the working of the EU court.
“The continued deepening and widening of EA integration will invariably lead to more economic, financial, commercial, social, labour and political transactions with probable disputes. Most of these will require the involvement of the Court,” Justice Nskela said.
The protocol contains provisions that remove restrictions on the free movement of labour and people, right of establishment and residence in any partner state, and free movement of goods and services all aimed at increasing trade and enhancing economic growth and development for the mutual benefit of all East Africans.
In his opening remarks, the official guest, the Zanzibar Chief Justice Omar Othman Makungu said the volume of work before the Court has been mounting, and therefore it must be prepared to face challenges.
“Disputes arising from the implementation of the common market protocol are likely to be heard by the court. It is clear that the more the people interact, the more disputes amongst them are likely to arise. So the regional judiciary has to prepare to handle disputes,” Justice Makungu said.
Continuous legal education and training is the surest way to improve judicial performance in the region, he emphasised.
The European Court of Justice is the highest court in the European Union on matters of European Union law, and as a part of the Court of Justice of the European Union it is tasked with interpreting EU law and ensuring its equal application across EU member states.
The Common Market is the second stage of the East African Community integration process after the Customs Union, which is already in operation. The third stage will be Monetary Union and ultimately Political Federation, culminating in the full integration of the region for which few in the world are on similar track, including the EU itself.