12 OCTOBER 2022, ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA
- Your Excellency, Honorable Lady Justice Meaza Ashenafi, President of the Supreme Court of Ethiopia
- Honorable Judges of African Court and the Ethiopian Judiciary
- Excellency Dr. Daniel Bekele, the Chief Commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission
- Delegates and Officials from the Government of Ethiopia
- Honorable Registrar of the African Court
- Colleagues of the African Court and Staff of other institutions
- All media representatives and
- Other distinguished participants
All Protocol observed.
Your Excellency, Hon. Justice Lady Meaza Ashenafi, President of the Supreme Court, on behalf of the African Court, let me express my deep and heartfelt gratitude to you personally and the Government of Ethiopia for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to us since the first day of our arrival for the sensitization visit to Ethiopia, “the Land of Origins”.
When we decided to undertake a sensitization visit to Ethiopia, it was with a great hope that we would have a fruitful engagement with the Government and other key stakeholders in the protection of human rights in the country. What we have achieved over the last week perfectly matched with our hope but also exceeded our expectation.
In the spirit of Pan-Africanism, we held frank discussions with Government officials on the need for Ethiopia to be part of the Court, organized a Seminar on the work of the Court and conducted a training to staff of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and selected civil societies on the jurisprudence of the Court.
We were satisfied by the outcomes of these activities and more importantly, we were inspired by the great interest shown by officials and other actors to promote and protect human rights and support the work of the Court. We are confident that what we have done so far has laid the foundation to forge a strong partnership in the protection of human and people rights in Africa.
Your Excellency, Hon. Justice Lady, as you well know, the primary responsibility to protect human rights and freedoms lies in the domestic institutions. As a regional human rights Court, the African Court has a subsidiary status to the domestic system and by virtue of this, it does not seek to supplant national courts or other municipal institutions. It is neither a substitute or a competitor but an ally and partner to municipal systems. The rule of exhaustion of local remedies to which the Court strictly adheres seeks to ensure this by requiring the Court not to accept cases which domestic courts have not had the opportunity to deal with.
Madam President, I believe that today’s signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Supreme Court of Ethiopia is in line with and a clear demonstration of the Court’s complementary and subsidiary role. I also congratulate you on making Ethiopia the first country whose national judiciary has signed an MoU of this kind with the Court. It is an evidence of Ethiopia’s leading role in many of the regional and global initiatives and efforts to promote and protect human freedom.
It is my strong conviction that the institutional collaboration we have created today will serve as a model for other similar intra-judicial partnerships between national and regional and international courts. It will also be an inspiration for other national courts to follow suit and emulate.
Your Excellency, I am inspired by your leadership and efforts to reform the Ethiopian judiciary. As I have leant, you have achieved a lot in improving the public confidence a very short span of time.
I am fully cognizant that challenges are there to test any reformer, but I am confident that your commitment to put your hallmarks in the country’s judiciary is greater than the magnitude or intensity of those challenges. It is this commitment that has made this MoU possible.
As I close my remarks, Honourable President, I would like to express my hope that you will try your best to encourage the Government officials to ratify the Protocol establishing the Court and deposit the Declaration allowing Ethiopian citizens to have access to the Court. We cannot wait to see Ethiopia join the Court as the 34th African country.
I thank you again for your hospitality! I thank you all!