East African Court of Justice Arusha, 27 February 2014: The First Instance Division today adjourned an application by a Burundi Citizen Mr. Isidore Rufyikiri versus the Republic of Burundi and the Secretary General of the East African Community, seeking to stay his disbarment from law practicing as an Advocate in the Republic of Burundi and his prohibition from leaving Burundi which the Applicant submits to be a breach of fundamental and operational principles of the Treaty establishing of the East African Community by the Republic of Burundi. Due to the absence of the Republic of Burundi in Court, the Court decide that it will be difficult to break the Application into two by hearing part of the prayer today and other prayers later. The Court further stated that, it understands the urgency of the matter and the fact that Mr. Isidore Rufyikiri may be inconvenienced, that however it also understands prejudice will be caused to both the Government of Burundi and the Secretary General (1st & 2nd Respondents) if the Court proceed to hear the matter and make a Ruling on the Application which they do not have the benefit of hearing both sides. Applicant represented by Mr. Richard Ondongo submitted to Court that, by virtue of the urgency of the matter it was very essential for the Attorney General for Republic of Burundi to file his application for adjournment of the matter or send a representative which he did not do. Onsongo also said that the Government of Burundi (1st Respondent) has conceded to have been served and needed time to respond, but that time will be injurious to the extent that Mr. Isidore Rufyikiri will not be practising his Law advocacy, and his clients will be suffering, while the Government will be enjoying seeking time to respond. The Applicant asked Court to proceed in the absence of the representative of Burundi Richard Onsongo further said that the matter had very little to do with the Secretary General if he needs time to file his response should ask for adjournment and thus no reason for His representative to advocate for the Government of Burundi for its non appearance in Court. Hon. Wilbert Kaahwa representing the Secretary General (2nd Respondent) submitted that, the Applicant has inconvenienced them (Respondents), by not serving them the necessary documents as required under Rule 22 of the East African Court of Justice Rules of Procedure. He added that he became aware of the matter five days ago which was too late for him to proceed with the hearing. Hon. Kaahwa also brought to the attention of the Court that the government of Burundi (1st Respondent) is also the victim of the Applicant’s non compliance of the Court’s Rules of Procedure. He finally submitted that he was not prepared to proceed with the hearing and that if the Court was to proceed in the absence of Burundi, it may not be able to proceed in the manner intended. He, therefore, asked the Court to dismiss the Application with cost as far as serving is concerned and procedural irregularities occasioned by the Applicant and that the dismissal will not prejudice the parties. He also asked Court to order the Applicant to serve the Respondents properly in a more appropriate date. The Burundi Tribunal on 19th February 2013 ordered Mr. Isidore Rufyikiri to stop practicing as an Advocate/ Lawyer and also refrained him from travelling out of the Country. Mr. Rufyikiri was the President of the Burundi Bar Association.

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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. Established in November 2001, the Court’s major responsibility 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 High Courts of the Partner States serve as sub-registries.

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