The Comesa Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General have directed the relocation of the regional Court of Justice from Khartoum to Zambia temporarily following the ongoing war in Sudan.

The council of ministers argues that relocation of its Registry Operations from Khartoum has been necessitated by the current political instability in the country, which has affected its operations.

The decision was reached during their 26th meeting of Justice Ministers and Attorney General held on September 22 in Lusaka, Zambia.

The court had already requested for temporary relocation to Zambia, where Comesa is headquartered, to facilitate smooth operation.

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.

Comesa Court of Justice in Khartoum. Images: courtesy.
Comesa Court of Justice in Khartoum. Images: courtesy.

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 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.