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The COMESA Court of Justice as embarked on a publicity programme in countries that are members of COMESA to sensitize governments and business communities on the roles of the Court in deepening regional integration.

The programme began in Madagascar on Wednesday 22 June 2016. It is aimed at sensitizing law practitioners, various Ministries, the business communities and other stakeholders about the remedies that the Court can afford to litigants in an effort to promote trade developments regarding the region and the continent. This is in addition to provisions and applications of the COMESA Treaty.

The General Secretary at the Ministry of Justice of Madagascar Mr RAZAFINJATOVO Honoré Parfait officially opened the seminar on behalf of the Minister Hon. Charles ANDRIAMISEZA. The Acting Principal Judge of the COMESA Court of Justice Lady Justice Qinisile Mabuza made the key note address.

Justice Mabuza said since inception, the Court has been underutilized as stakeholders; principally, the business community and Governments have not been well informed about its services. She said only a few references have been filed especially under the provision on Natural or Legal Persons against Member States or State institutions, which the Court has made landmark judgments that are cited widely.

“In one case involving a private company against a State, the Court upheld the rights of the private company. Such decisions serve to instill confidence amongst investors that their investments are secure both in their home country and in the regional States,” Justice Mabuza said.

She said that countries need to be assured that the agreements and treaties they sign can be enforced through a functional legal framework as this builds confidence in the system and enables deeper integration to occur.

“The Court provides a channel through which Member States and other stakeholders could seek redress for any damages or disputes that may arise as a result of the COMESA integration process,” said the Judge.

She said it was imperative that the Judiciary, the Legal profession, the business community and other stakeholders in member States are well informed about it.

“We believe that through publicity seminars in the COMESA Member States more people will be able to appreciate the services of the COMESA Court of Justice and use its services when required,” Justice Mabuza said.

She urged the legal and judiciary in Madagascar to go beyond the mere knowledge of the mandate of the Court but also understand the issues that its deal with;

“Knowledge about the Free Trade Area, Customs Union, Non-Tariff Barriers, Most Favoured Nations and such other terminologies that are found within a regional economic community are important for you to be familiar with,” Justice Mabuza said. Mr. RAZAFINJATOVO said Madagascar was keen to utilize the Court to help the country become more competitive fully integrated in the regional economy and underpin prosperity and growth.

The COMESA Court of Justice is the judicial organ of COMESA whose core function is to adjudicate upon all disputes between Member States that would arise from the interpretation and application of the COMESA Treaty. In addition to Lady Justice Mabuza, presentations were done by Lady Justice Mary Kasango and Dr Justice Leonard Gacuko and Assistant Registrar of the Court Hon. N. Juddoo.

Seventy participants drawn from the Bar Association, Law Faculties, Legal Scholars, law practitioners, business and commerce representatives and related stakeholders.