The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) wants its sittings to be conducted throughout the year as opposed to the current four months annually in order to address all the arising issues effectively.
The EACJ registrar Yufnalis Okubo said the current sessions are not sufficient to effectively deal with all the cases brought before the court.
Mr Okubo said it is not tenable for a court that has jurisdiction over six countries to only sit for four months a year.
“Our mandate runs across the six East African countries and the four months that we sit are not enough at all. A national court here in Kenya, which only deals with internal cases seats for a whole year, what about the EACJ that has to manage six states in the region? Mr Okubo posed.
The registrar was speaking on Wednesday in Nairobi during the induction of the court’s new judges who were appointed recently.
He said the court is still grappling with financial challenges and there is a need to increase its budgetary allocation going forward.
The court relies on contributions from the member states for its operations and delays by countries in paying their subscriptions have a negative impact on its operations.
Judge of the Supreme Court of Kenya Smokin Wanjala said EACJ plays a crucial role in the region and that the induction of the new judges who are to sit on the bench is a key milestone towards building the institution’s capacity.
Justice Wanjala made the remarks on behalf of Kenya’s acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu who was supposed to be the chief guest.
The court has 11 judges, but the number can be increased to a maximum of 15 and they serve a seven-year non-renewable term subject to retirement at the age of 70.
The East African Court of Justice, which was inaugurated on November 30, 2001, is one of the organs of the East African Community established under Article 9 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC.
Among its key responsibilities is to ensure adherence to law in the interpretation and application of and compliance with the Treaty.
EAC partner states are Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.