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Meeting with UNIRMCT - Photo:Ragna Sørlundsengen
The courtroom at the UNIRMCT Ragna Sørlundsengen

Meetings with regional courts in Arusha 24-25 June

From the 24th to 26th of June, the Ambassador and a delegation from the Embassy, stayed in Arusha to attend the East African Community (EAC) Partnership Fund Steering Committee meeting and for Ambassador Jacobsen to hand over her accreditation letter to the EAC Secretary General, Liberat Mfukumeko. As a continental hub sometimes referred to as the African City of Justice or the Geneva of Africa, the Ambassador wished to utilize the opportunity to meet and learn more about the different international and regional courts that are located in the city.

The first meeting of the visit was with the United Nations International Residual Mechanism of Criminal Tribunals (UNIRMCT) also referred to as “the Mechanism”. The Mechanism’s mandate is to perform the functions of the previous international courts for Rwanda and former Yugoslavia. With active tracking teams, the Mechanism works towards its main goal that is to locate and prosecute the remaining eight war criminals after the Rwandan genocide. However, extraditing the fugitives has shown to be a major challenge given the extensive financial resources and networks the fugitives have themselves in their different locations. Another challenge the Mechanism reported was the return processes of prisoners after finalizing serving sentences at the UNs detention facilities in Arusha. 

Meeting with UNIRMCT

After the meeting with the Mechanism, the Ambassador met with President of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, Honourable Justice Sylvain Oré from the Ivory Coast. The President explained how the Court supports the functions of The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, established by the AU in Banjul to ensure protection and compliance regarding human rights in Africa. Thirty of fifty-five African countries have ratified the Court, and of these thirty, nine countries have declared that cases brought to the court by individuals or NGOs have legally binding outcomes internationally.

Meeting with ACHPR

The final court visited was the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) where the Embassy delegation had an informative meeting with the President of the court, Honorable Justice Dr. Ugirashebuja from Rwanda and the Registrar Yufnalis N. Okubu from Kenya. The EACJ is one of the three pillars of the EAC together with the Secretariat and the East African Legal Assembly. The Court processes legal cases that are considered a breach on the Treaty of the Establishment of the East African Community. Because of Article 6(d) of the Treaty that concerns respect for democratic principles, rule of law and universal human rights, ninety percent of the Courts cases deals with have human rights elements.  A human rights violation is therefore a breach of the Treaty. 

Meeting with EACJ

The Ambassador was impressed with the workings of the court, especially in regards to the high degree of legal compliance and their work to make their judicial services more easily available throughout the East African Community.