Arusha, 11 June 2008 (FH) - , The African Union experts have completed a draft proposal for the merger of the African Human Rights Court and the African Court of Justice "so as to have an effective single African judicial organ".

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The draft, according to the Arusha-based African Human Right Court President Justice Gerard Niyungeko, would be presented at the end of this month during the Summit of African Heads in Egypt.

Justice Niyungeko told reporters Wednesday that currently the eleven judges of the court are holding an ordinary session to finalise Rules of Procedure and other related issues. The session will end on 20 June.

The first African Human Rights Court has also expressed concern over delay in construction of its temporary structure at Tengeru, on the outskirts of Ausha town, and which may affect its effective take off.

Justice Niyungeko said that the construction's delay would render difficulties in housing its permanent staff, now on the final stage of their recruitment. The Tengeru-located court is expected to take at least one year before it is ready. Architects have estimated to take between five to seven years to complete the permanent construction.

"The delay will further compound the operations of the Court which upon finalizing its Rules of Procedure will start receiving cases," he told Hirondelle Agency.

He also reiterated the member states to ratify the protocol establishing the African Court. So far only 24 member states out of 53 African Union (AU) have ratified the Protocol. "Only Burkina Faso and Mali have issued declaration accepting the Court's competence to entertain cases from individuals and NGOs, he added.

Among early countries which have ratified the Protocol include Rwanda, which had seen one of the worst forms of human killings of the modern century in 1994. Tanzania, regarded as an African model of justice and democracy, ratified the Protocol in February 2006, which paved the way for her to host the Court.

Other countries are: Algeria , Burkina Faso , Burundi , Coted'Ivoire, Comoros , Kenya , Gabon , Gambia , Ghana , Libya ,Lesotho,Madagascar,Mozambique,Mauritania,Mauritius,Nigeria,Niger, South Africa, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia and Uganda.

The Court, unlike other organs of AU, was empowered to give binding judgements which are enforceable against parties.

The Court was established by the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Protocol adopted by members states in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in June 1998. The Protocol entered into force in January 2004.

The Court started its operations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in November 2006 but moved to its permanent seat in Arusha in August, last year. It is only the President of the Court who is permanent resident so far.


© Hirondelle News Agency