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An Appraisal of the Functioning and Effectiveness of the East African Court of Justice

Ally Possi


This contribution reflects on the functioning of the East African Court of
Justice (EACJ) and judges its effectiveness by assessing the Court's
role of ensuring adherence to, the application of and compliance with
the East African Community (EAC) Treaty. The EACJ became
operational on 30 November 2001, following its inauguration after the
swearing in of its judges and the Registrar. During this initial stage of
the Court's existence there were indications that the EACJ was failing
to stamp its authority on the activities of the Community. The main
reason for this failure is the existence of gaps in the EAC Treaty, which
prevent the EACJ from effectively discharging its functions. In addition,
as shown in this article, the EACJ has been delivering judgements on
the grounds of doubtful authority which has gradually diminished the
Court's legitimacy. Given its relevance to the EAC, this may therefore
be the time to audit the EACJ's functioning and reflect on whether it is
moving in the right direction. The hypothesis of this article is that the
EACJ has been struggling to establish its authority in the region,
mostly in the areas of human rights, the rule of law and good
governance. In tracing its history so far it is easy to discern its strategic
attempts at judicial law-making to arrogate to itself the role of the
protector of human rights. While it is acknowledged that the EACJ is
increasingly receiving cases of a divergent nature, most of these cases
have had little influence on the integration project or are outside the
scope of its mandate.

Keywords: East African Court of Justice; functioning; effectiveness.
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