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The Admissibility of Subregional Courts’ Decisions before the African Commission or African Court

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Abstract:

Some courts of Regional Economic Communities deal with human rights and they base their decisions on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Other subregional courts have directly or indirectly considered human rights matters. However, it is not clear whether the cases decided by subregional courts are admissible before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights or the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Focusing on the Economic Community of West African States Court of Justice, the East African Court of Justice, and the Southern African Development Community Tribunal, I argue that the African Commission or the African Court should not admit cases decided by subregional courts. First, accepting such cases would overburden the African Commission and the African Court. Second, the decisions of subregional courts are final according to the treaties establishing them. Third, states should not be tried twice by international institutions for the same violation. Fourth, decisions of subregional courts have res judicata effect. Fifth, subregional courts are envisaged under Article 56(7) of the African Charter. Finally, the African Court or the African Commission can interpret the text of the African Charter to preclude the admissibility of cases decided by subregional courts.

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