East African Court of Justice, 1st July, 2021: The First Instance Division struck out an application seeking for orders against government of Uganda, East African Community Secretary General the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) to avail documents to support the applicant’s case.
The court in its ruling struck out the application because the petitioners included the Attorneys General of Kenya and Tanzania who were not parties to the case. The court ruled that the petitioners were at liberty to amend their case by excluding the wrong parties they had included.
The case that was filed by Isaac E. N. Okero and Others is challenging the Government of Uganda, the EAC Secretary General and LBVC over alleged violations of the Treaty by abdicating their responsibilities of proper management of the outflow of waters from Lake victoria and failing to adhere to a policy for the release of water into River Nile from the lake.
The petitioners further allege that the anticipated long rains in East Africa had caused an increase of water levels along the lake’s shorelines and the backflow of some rivers terminating in the lake thereby causing extensive flooding which is an infringement of the fundamental principles of the Community.
During its second session, the court heard an application seeking for interim orders to prohibit the government of Burundi from implementing the decision delivered by the Special Court of Burundi to demolish the houses and crops of the applicants pending hearing and determination of the case.
The petitioners’ lawyer, Mr. Nsabimana Janvier, said that the destruction of the properties had caused irreparable damage that could not be compensated and that the government must ensure respect for good governance as enshrined under the Treaty.
The Government of Burundi (Respondent) represented by Counsel Vyizigiro objected to the prayers by the applicant and submitted that the application was time barred arguing that it was filed after the two (2) months limit as prescribed by the Treaty.
Counsel Vyizigiro argued that the decision of the Special Court was rendered on 28th August, 2019 while the case was filed on 29th January, 2020. Counsel Vyizigiro also said that the applicant based his application on non-existent acts as alleged. The defence counsel contended that after the said decision was delivered, the Minister of Justice of Burundi issued a letter stopping the court from executing the impugned decision. He therefore asked court to dismiss the application with costs.
The court will deliver its ruling on the matter in due course. The matters were brought before Honourable Judges of the First Instance Division Justice Yohane Masara (Principal Judge), Justice Audace Ngiye, Justice Dr. Charles Nyawello, Justice Charles Nyachae, Justice Richard Wabwire Wejuli and Justice Richard Muhumuza.