FIRST INSTANCE DIVISION RULES ON THE APPLICATION FILED BY PEACE AND SECURITY UNIT STAFF

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East African Court of Justice Arusha, 15th September, 2016: The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) First Instance Division today has made a ruling on the consolidated Applications from the cases filed by three members of Staff of the East African Community Early Warning Unit, accusing the Secretary General of allegedly giving them notice of termination of their employment contracts from 20th September, 2016.
On the bench of the First Instance Division bench were Honourable Judges Lady Justice Monica Mugenyi (Principal Judge), Justice Isaac Lenaola (Deputy Principal Judge) and Justice Audace Ngiye. The matter was in open Court.

The Court ruled that the matter has been settled after the Secretary General signed copies of letters to stop the termination of the contracts and served them on the Applicants’ Lawyers. The EACJ further said that the Secretary General had acted in accordance with the Council of Ministers’ resolution passed on 5th September, 2016 and so the application had been over taken by events. Court added that since the main Reference is still pending in court for determination, the costs of the Application shall abide the Reference.

The Applicants were asking the court to grant an injunction restraining the Secretary General from effecting his decision to terminate the Claimants’ contracts pending the hearing and determination of the main cases. Applicants claim that, on 17th June 2016, the Secretary General acted beyond his mandate in deciding to terminate the Petitioners’ contracts by serving them notices of termination of service, in breach of the Council of EAC Ministers decisions at its 16th , 18th , 19th meeting and 31st Extra-Ordinary meetings, Regulation 96 of the Staff Rules and Regulations 2006, the provisions of the Claimants’ employment contract, the official communication from the European Union (EU) and African Union (AU) as well as the Agreements between EU and AU and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) including EAC.

The Applicants also stated that on 7th July, 2016, they received, from the EAC Registry, a notice of three (3) months to terminate their employment contract effective 20th June, 2016 signed by the EAC Secretary General. That by that letter, the Petitioners were informed that EAC has no funds to support the African Union Peace and Architecture Support project staff and that for that reason, the Secretary General requested the Petitioners to handover all activities under them to the Deputy Secretary General in charge of Political Federation.

They further said that the reason given to justify the decision of termination of their services is not in the Treaty; neither is it in the staff rules and regulations nor in the employment contract of the Petitioners. The Petitioners added that instead the Treaty in Article 4(2) gives powers to the Secretary General to do all things including borrowing funds to keep the functions of the Community running.

The Claimants further contend that the Secretary General did not provide any evidence that the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) support programme has ended and instead the Regional Economic Community (RECs), EAC included, received communication from the European Union (EU) and African Union (AU) informing it that funds were in the process of being disbursed to support the said program and requesting that the staff employed under the APSA programme should be retained to ensure that the capacities that have been developed over the years by the program are sustained. In addition, that the EU and AU have informed the EAC that the new APSA programme will run from January 2016 to December 2018 and that the budget allocation has been approved for AU and other RECs with the EAC allocation funding at Euros 2,850,000.

However, Dr. Anthony Kafumbe, the Counsel to the Community, for the Secretary General, said that the 34th Council of Ministers directed the Secretariat to rescind the termination letters of the staff’ employees in the Peace and Security department {EAC/CM 34/Directive 59) and also directed the Secretariat to amicably settle the pending litigation related to APSA staff at the East African Court of Justice (EAC/CM 34/Directive 60). Dr. Kafumbe said that the Secretary General had since complied with the Council directive.

These Applicants who were present in Court were Benoit Bihamiriza and Didacus Kaguta with their Lawyer Ms. Alice Nijimbire. The third Applicant, Mr. Patrice Mulama, was not in Court but was represented by his advocate Aimable Malala. The Applicants filed their cases on the 15th July, 10th and 12th August 2016 respectively. Mr. Bihamiriza is a Conflict Early Warning Expert; Mr. Kaguta is a Peace and Security Officer, while Mr. Mulama is a Senior Analyst – Early Warning.

Notice for editors:

The 34th Council of Ministers decision

a) noted with serious concern that the required procedure for termination was not foliowed, and in future, termination of officers under the Project should be brought to the Council for approval in accordance with the EAC Staff Rules and Regulations, 2006 and the EAC Financial Rules and Regulations, 2012 (EAC/CM 34/Decision 86);

b) directed Secretariat to rescind the termination letters of the staff contracts under Peace and Security department {EAC/CM 34/Directive 59);

c) directed the Secretariat to amicably settle the pending litigation related to APSA staff at the East African Court of Justice (EAC/CM 34/Directive 60);

d) noted the budgetary challenges in the funding of the APSA Project and directed the Secretariat to devise means of funding it (EAC/CM34/Decision 81);

e) directed the Secretariat to submit a comprehensive paper on sustainability of the APSA Project (EAC/CM 34/Directive 60A);

f) directed the Secretariat to re-allocate funds from available budget lines to support the 11 APSA Project Staff while awaiting disbursement from the African Union (EAC/CM 34/Directive 61);

g) reiterated its previous decision (EAC/EX/CM 31/Directive 05) and direct the Secretariat to submit the Roadmap to the Council of Ministers meeting in November, 2016 (EAC/CM 34/Decision 88);

h) directed the Secretariat to submit all appointments and termination of Professional staff under Projects to the Council for consideration before lmplementation EAC/CM34/Directive 62);

i) directed the Secretariat to submit a comprehensive situation of all staff supported by development Partners to the 35th Meeting of the Council in November, 2016(EAC/CM34/Directive 63); and

j) directed Partner States to pay their respective contributions in view of the liquidity challenges at the Secretariat (EAC/CM 34/Directive 64);

About the EACJ

The East African Court of Justice (EACJ or ‘the Court’), is one of the organs of the East African Community established under Article 9 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community. Established in November 2001, the Court’s major responsibility is to ensure the adherence to law in the interpretation and application of and compliance with the EAC Treaty.

Arusha is the temporary seat of the Court until the Summit determines its permanent seat. The Court’s sub-registries are located in the respective National Courts in the Partner States.

For more information please contact:

Yufnalis Okubo, Registrar, East African Court of Justice. Tel: 255-27-2162149
Email Okubo@eachq.org
East African Court of Justice
Arusha, Tanzania
http://www.eacj.org

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