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Presidential sendoff for Sierra Leone’s first ECOWAS judge

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has urged newly appointed Justice Kekura Bangura to the Community Court of the Economic Community of West African States to make his country proud by living up to expectation in his new role.Justice Bangura becomes the first Sierra Leonean ever to be appointed to the sub regional court which is based in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, following a rigorous recruitment process.

Bangura is due to be sworn into office on July 30.

Ahead of the ceremony, he was officially presented to President Bio at State House in Freetown on Tuesday.

Bio offered the newly appointed judge his government’s support and urged him to make Sierra Leone proud by raising further the profile of its judicial system.

“You are representing not only the judiciary but also the state of Sierra Leone and that is on your shoulder a very heavy weight. We want you to execute your duty diligently, in a way that will bring honor and respect to our country,” the president said.

ECOWAS is a 15-member organization in West Africa, created to promote regional integration.

The ECOWAS Court of Justice is the judicial organ of the bloc and is charged with resolving disputes related to its treaty, protocols and conventions.

The court also has competence to hear individual complaints of alleged human rights violations.

Although ECOWAS was founded in 1975, the Court of Justice was not created until the adoption of the Protocol on the Community Court of Justice in 1991.

The ECOWAS Revised Treaty of 1993 established the Court of Justice as an institution.

But the court’s jurisdiction has been a constant subject of challenge by some member countries, as seen in 2017 in Sierra Leone where the former president Ernest Bai Koroma administration challenged a ruling in a case brought up by his former Vice President who felt he was illegally dismissed from office.

In The Gambia, then President Yahya Jammeh’s government refused to honor rulings in cases relating to torture filed by victims of his rule which was characterized by human rights abuses.

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