Speech By KMG Chisanga President of the Law Association of Zambia Made at the Regional Sensitization Seminar on the Promotion of the African Court for the Southern African Region 15th-17th October, 2014, Intercontinetal Hotel, Lusaka, Zambia

All Protocols observed

On behalf of the Executive, Council and the entire membership of the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ), I am greatly honoured and privileged to echo His Lordship the President of the African Court of Human and Peoples Right in welcoming you all to this Regional Sensitisation Seminar on the promotion of the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights in the Southern African Region.

Allow me to start by extending a special Zambian Jubilee welcome to all the participants here gathered from within the region and far afield. We are truly humbled as LAZ to be part of the Zambian team that is hosting our distinguished delegation from the African Court.

LAZ takes great pride to be associated with the hosting of the seminar that will be held for the next three days. This is so, not only because the seminar resonates with the objectives of LAZ as a Bar Association that seeks to see the entrenchment of the rule of law and enhancement of the culture of respect for Human Rights on the African Continent, but also because the timing of this seminar, coming as it has, at the time that Zambia is about to celebrate fifty years of her independence, is exceptionally opportune.

Distinguished guests ladies and gentlemen, it is a fact that the protocol establishing the African Court came into being on 9 June 1998. That a country like Zambia, which is renowned around the African Continent as a second seat for treaty signing and ratification, after Ethiopia, has not yet ratified this protocol, is an unexplainable myth. It is for this purpose that a seminar such as the one being held here is of great significance. It is the presumed wisdom of LAZ that this important seminar will unlock and demystify all the real and apparent misconceptions of and about the African Court by fully enlightening the participants on the jurisdictional aspects of this important continental court, and highlighting for added benefit of the participants, the jurisprudence that has developed out of this Court for the short period in which it has been in existence. We at LAZ have examined some constitutional documents and some literature relating to the African Court, through our Sub committee of Law Reform and Research. Even without a benefit of detailed and guided research, we have established that the complimentary nature of the jurisdiction of the Court -visa-vis National Courts, has the potential to help the African Continent to enhance its profile on governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights.

From what we have established as LAZ the protocol’s application to a State party thereto is instigated by such State party ratifying the protocol. Where such a State party would wish its citizens to have access to the Court, the State must comply with an additional requirement of filing a Declaration in the African Court. LAZ would like to see the Zambian Government attend to both these imperatives simultaneously, so that full jurisdiction, which benefits the Country and its citizens is conferred on the Court. It must be emphasised that for us as LAZ the filing of the declaration is as important as the ratification of the protocol. This is because, the African Court, as the name suggests, was partly established to ensure that the citizens of the member Countries of the African Union are accorded eased access to justice. On our part as LAZ we assure the African Court delegation that immediately after this memorable seminar, we shall engage Government and other stakeholders in dialog aimed at ensuring that the objectives of your mission to Zambia are met with tangible and positive deliverables.

Allow me to end by thanking all invited guests for joining us at this Regional Seminar and wish all of you God’s blessings and fruitful deliberations during the next three days.

I thank you.

K M G Chisanga

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