COMESA court set to relocate to Sudan

The new Court was built at a total cost of US $4.2 million out of which US $3.5 million went into construction of the court building while US $695,000 was spent on furnishings and communication equipment.

All the costs were met by the Government of Sudan

The handing over ceremony was conducted by the Sudan Justice Minister, Hon. Mohamed Dosa, and the COMESA Assistant Secretary General, Amb Nagla El Hussainy Thursday June 26 in Khartoum. This was in fulfillment of the promise made by President Omar El-Bashir of Sudan at the 17th COMESA Heads of State and Government Summit in Kinshasa in February this year.

The three storied Court premises consist of two Court Chambers; Appellate and First Instance Court Chambers

There are four chambers for the five appellate judges and six chambers for the seven judges of the Court of First Instance.

The Court currently holds its sittings in Lusaka while its offices are hosted at the COMESA Secretariat. The new court will have its first sessions in September this year

The role of the Court is to ensure proper interpretation of the provisions of the COMESA Treaty, to adjudicate upon all disputes between Member States. It also facilitates international arbitration and conciliation of private commercial disputes and disputes between COMESA and its staff.

The Court was established in 1994 through the COMESA Treaty and operates as an independent organ of the Common Market. It comprises two Divisions, the Appellate Division headed by Judge President Hon. Nzamba Kitonga of Kenya and the First Instance Division, headed by a Principal Judge.

Sudan’s Justice Minister pledged his government’s commitment to fulfill all obligations under the Host Agreement signed with COMESA to ensure the Court is facilitated to run smoothly in its new headquarters. This includes the provision of stipulated privileges for and accreditation of the Court judges and staff.

“The Court has been built, equipped and furnished in line with the highest international standards” assured the Sudan Minister for Justice Hon. Mohamed Dosa when he presided over the handing ceremony.

While receiving the keys, Amb Nagla E-Hussainy thanked the Government of Sudan for the generous gesture which she said has raised the bar in the standard of COMESA institutions and organs based in Member States.

“This is a historic occasion that marks the realization of a permanent seat for the Court of Justice, which will enable it contribute more effectively to the regional integration agenda through provision of dispute resolution mechanism which will in turn instill more confidence to investors in the region,” COMESA Assistant Secretary General said.

The Sudan Minister for Trade, Hon. Osman Alsharief, pledged support to the Court as the co-ordinating Minister for COMESA programmes in Sudan; and to ensure that his country effectively participates and benefit from all COMESA programmes.

“Conflicts are inevitable in any functioning trade regime and it is therefore imperative that the COMESA trade regime should have a strong and independent dispute resolution mechanism”, Hon. Osman Alsharief said.