The human rights jurisdiction of the SADC tribunal and the East African Court of Justice : legal and political implications.
Sub-regional Economic Communities have increasingly become important in the promotion, protection, and human rights in Africa. Sub-regional human rights courts potentially bring international justice closer to victims in their respective regions. However, there is a debate surrounding the acquisition of human rights jurisdiction by the SADC Tribunal and the East African Court of Justice through broad purposive interpretation of their respective treaties. Many scholars however agree that the judges correctly afforded human rights jurisdiction to both Courts. They argue that human rights jurisdiction is an incident of the principles rule of law, democracy and good governance, which find meaning within the ambit of both treaties. The cases of Mike Campbell v The Republic of Zimbabwe, in the SADC Tribunal, and Katabazi v The Secretary General of the EAC, in the EACJ resulted in the conferment of human rights jurisdiction on both Courts. Even though these cases were fundamentally similar, they received varying responses from their respective Sub-regional Economic Communities. This work critically analyses the human rights jurisdiction of these Courts and unpacks these different reactions. The SADC Tribunal is currently suspended and a New Protocol to establish a new Tribunal without human rights jurisdiction was adopted. By using Roux’s theory of ‘tactical adjudication’, it aims to show how the negative reaction to the SADC Tribunal’s judgment might have been avoided or mitigated, thereby maintaining its institutional security.