Ministers approve temporary relocation of COMESA Court operations from Sudan
COMESA Court of Justice will temporarily relocate its Registry Operations from Khartoum, Sudan owing to the current political instability in the country, which has affected its operations.
The decision was made by COMESA Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General during their 26th Meeting held on 22 September 2023 in Lusaka, Zambia. This followed a request by the Court for temporary relocation to Zambia, where COMESA has its headquarters.
Making the request, the Judge President of the Court, Lady Justice Lombe Chibesakunda expressed the Court’s empathy by the turn of events in Sudan, one of the founding Member States of COMESA.
“Unfortunately, the situation as it stands now underscores the urgency of considering alternative measures to ensure the Court continues delivering on its mandate,” she said in her address to the meeting.
The Court has been based in Khartoum, since 2014 pursuant to a 2003 COMESA Decision of the Heads of State, which chose Khartoum, as the Permanent Seat of the Court.
As the judicial organ of COMESA, the Court adjudicates and arbitrates on, among other matters, unfair trade practices, interpretation of the Treaty (Protocols and other legislative acts) and ensures that Member States uniformly implement and comply with agreed decisions.
The Court has two divisions with a total of 12 Judges all holding high judicial office in their respective countries. The lower Division, known as the Court of First Instance, has seven judges, while the upper division is the Appellate and has five Judges.
Decisions of the Court on the interpretation of the provisions of the COMESA Treaty have precedence over decisions of national courts and are binding on all COMESA Member States.