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Little known COMESA Court launches publicity actionBy Joseph Mwenda on 21 Apr 2017
Vice President Inonge Wina today officially opened a publicity seminar for the COMESA Court of Justice in Lusaka with a note that the institution’s existence is hardly known because of lack of sensitization.
And former Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda tipped lawyers in Zambia to explore opportunities under the COMESA umbrella, and practice international law across boarders.
Speaking at the 7th publicity seminar, which was being held for the fist time in Zambia, Wina gave a brief explanation about the jurisdiction of the COMESA Court of Justice.
“It has been observed that the court is being underutilized. This is unfortunate, especially that a well-established institutional framework is in place with capable and well qualified judges available to preside over matters. The underutilisation of the court may be attributed to lack of information and understanding of the role that the court plays. I therefore thank the court for organising this publicity seminar in Zambia,” said Wina.
“The COMESA Court of Justice has jurisdiction to hear a reference from a legal or natural person resident in a member state concerning the legality of any act, regulation, directive or decision of the COMESA Council on grounds of unlawfulness or infringement of treaty provisions. But such reference can only be made where local remedies in the national courts or tribunals have been exhausted.”
And justice Chibesakunda encouraged lawyers to take advantage of the court.
“This should be of particular interest to those of you who are from the judiciary and lawyers of the bar in this room. We hope that this seminar will open your eyes to the opportunities that may be available for legal practice, not just in Zambia but within the entire COMESA region,” she said.
“With deepening regional integration, it is expected that international dispute resolutions will come in handy. There is therefore need for lawyers to position themselves to fully utilize the services that the court has to offer. Equally, for the business community, the court is there to protect your interests locally and in the region against any act that violets the guarantees that the COMESA treaty provides.”
Justice Chibesakunda noted that stakeholders had so many unanswered questions around the applicability and interpretation of international in relation to the COMESA treaty law.
“The COMESA treaty is not an instrument for regulating interests of nations only, it also encourages nationals of member states to establish and carry on business in any of the member states without being subjected to discriminatory treatment on grounds of nationality,” she explained.
“The treaty therefore gives rights and obligations which can be enforced by individuals in both the COMESA court and national court. I hope that by the end of this seminar the COMESA Court of Justice will have given answers to some of the key questions regarding the applicability and interpretation of international law and in particular the COMESA treaty law.”
The COMESA Court of Justice was established in 1994 and was hosted within the COMESA secretariat in Zambia, until 2014 when it was relocated to its permanent seat in Sudan.
About Joseph Mwenda
Joseph Mwenda is a Zambian journalist experienced in political news writing, photography and video editing.
Email: joseph [at] diggers [dot] news
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