The President of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) Nestor Kayobera says the court needs more financial and administrative autonomy for it to effectively deliver on its mandate.
Speaking in Kampala on October 25 during a training for East African journalists on the role of the court, Justice Kayobera said the EAC Treaty provides for the impartiality and independence of the EACJ, but the court has no autonomy, unlike the executive and legislative arms of the East African Community (EAC).
“The other arms of the EAC have independence. We need the EACJ to have financial and administrative autonomy to discharge our mandate properly,” he said.
He lamented that the budgetary allocations to the court are barely enough for its operations and urged the Council of Ministers to consider a higher allocation.
Unprecedented case backlog
He said the Court has an unprecedented case backlog, which he attributed to the increased awareness among the EAC citizens about its mandate and the lack of a permanent seat at the EAC.
Currently, the court is based in Arusha but only the President and Principal Judge of the First Instance Division are permanently based there. The other judges come when required and the court does not meet often enough to dispense with matters before it quickly.
Justice Kayobera said the fact that the majority of the judges have national duties in their countries means they have little time to dedicate to the cases at the regional court.
“We have more than 200 cases in the First division. We have 16 cases before the Appellate Court. There’s no international court that handles such a huge caseload,” he said.
He appreciated the fact that the member states have been implementing the decisions of the court.