East African Court of Justice,15th November 2023: The East African Court of Justice First Instance Division, dismissed a case challenging the Republics of Uganda & Rwanda (1st and 2nd Respondents respectively), over the closure of the border, claiming that it violates Women’s economic rights, under the Treaty for the establishment of the East African Community (EAC), on cross border Trade.
The Case (Reference No. 13 of 2019 Eastern African Sub-regional support Initiative for the advancement of Women (EASSI) and two others against the two Governments, the Applicants alleged that Rwanda’s action of closing its border with Uganda, contravened and violated Articles, 5, 6 (b) and (d) and 7, 8 (1) (c) among others of the East African Community (EAC) Treaty and the Protocol on Common Market. Further, that the action also violates the economic rights of women in cross border trade and stated that both governments of Uganda and Rwanda, have an obligation to uphold the fundamental principles of the EAC as enshrined in Article 6 (d) and 7 (2).
The Trial Court in its Judgment said that, the case was filed out of time beyond the two months’ time limitation, contrary to Article 30 (2) of the Treaty. Court determined that, first; the decision or act of closing the border between Uganda and Rwanda was made on 28th February 2019, second; that the Applicants filed this Reference in Court on 21st June 2019, which was beyond the two- months period provided for under the Treaty. Therefore, having been determined so, the Court has no jurisdiction to deal with the matter and ordered each party to bear its own costs.
Further, the Court did not consider it necessary to deal with other issues framed for determination, since it lacked the jurisdiction.
The three Applicants who filed the Case are; Eastern Africa Sub-Regional support initiative for advancement of women (EASSI), Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) and Centre for Food and Adequate Living Rights (CEFROHT) Ltd.
Present in Court to receive the judgment, were the lawyers for the Respondents, that is Counsel Sam Tusubila, for the Attorney General of Uganda and Counsel Nicholaus Ntarugera, for the Attorney General of Rwanda.
About the EACJ
The East African Court of Justice (EACJ or ‘the Court’), is one of the Organs of the East African Community established under Article 9 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community. The Court was established in November 2001, its key mandate is to ensure the adherence to law in the interpretation and application of and compliance with the EAC Treaty. Arusha is the temporary seat of the Court until the Summit determines its permanent seat. The Court’s sub-registries are located in the capitals of the following Partner States: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania.
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