The African Court on Human and Peopleâ€™s Rights in Tanzania has been asked to use its advisory powers to determine whether the suspension of the Sadc Tribunal by regional leaders was legal.
The request for an advisory opinion was lodged by the Pan-African Lawyers Union (Palu) and the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (Salc) at the court in Arusha, Tanzania on Friday.
Palu and Salc, in a press statement on Tuesday, said the Sadc heads of State and governmentâ€™s decision to suspend the Sadc Tribunal was unlawful since it violates judicial independence, access to justice, the right to effective remedies and the rule of law.
The statement signed by Salc executive director Nicole Fritz reads: â€œA positive ruling from the African Court is one of the last remaining avenues to securing a revival of the Sadc Tribunal and preserving the rule of law in southern Africa. Without the Tribunal, most of the regionâ€™s inhabitants â€“ who cannot access credible domestic courts â€“ have no real prospect of securing justice and redress.â€
He says if the court rules that the suspension was illegal, it would be a definitive legal determination of the lawfulness of the Sadc Summitâ€™s actions.
The request for the legal opinion by the two institutions comes at a time Malawi is in dispute with Tanzania over Lake Malawi and days after Tanzania made a U-turn to seek mediation of former Sadc heads of State.