Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo
Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo (Ghana) was elected President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights on 18 September 2012 for a two-year term.
Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo was first elected as a Judge in 2006 for a two-year term and re-elected in 2008 for a six-year term. She was elected as Vice-President of the African Court in September 2008 for a two-year term and re-elected in September 2010 for a final two-year term. She is a Judge of the Supreme Court of Ghana and a member of several organizations, including the Advisory Committee of the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute.
Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo is the third President of the Court. The previous Presidents were Justice Gérard Niyungeko (Burundi) who served as the first President of the Court (2006-2008;2010-2012) and Justice Jean Mutsinzi (Rwanda;2008-2010).
Her publications include: The Application of Information & Communication Technology in the Judicial Process - The Ghanaian Experience, presented to the African Judicial Network, Ghana (2002).
Justice Jean Mutsinzi (2006-2012)
Justices Jean Mutsinzi is a national of Rwanda. He was elected Judge of the African Court in 2006 for a six-year term (renewable). He served as President of the Court for a term of two years from September 2008 to September 2010.
Justice Jean Mutsinzi holds a Doctorate degree in Law (PhD) from the University of Brussels (1964, Belgium). He is also a holder of other university degrees, including a preparatory Law Degree for the Doctorate Degree in Law obtained in (1961) and post-doctorate specialization degrees respectively in International Law (1965) and in Maritime and Air Law (1965). He is also a holder of a Diploma of the Research Centre of International Law and International Relations of the Hague Academy of International Law (1967), a Diploma of the United Nations Commission of International Law in Geneva (1970) and a Diploma of the International Development Law Institute (IDLI-Rome, 1985).
Before his election as Judge of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Justice Jean Mutsinzi was a Judge at the Supreme Court of Rwanda (2003-2008). He served as the President of the Supreme Court and President of the Superior Council of the Judiciary of Rwanda (1995 -1999). He also served as the Executive Secretary of the Rwandan Constitutional Commission in charge of drafting the new National Constitution (2001-2003) and the President of the Investigating Committee of Independent Experts on the Downing of the President HABYARIMANA’s Plane on 6 April 1994.
Justice Jean Mutsinzi also assumed high ranking duties at the African level. He worked at the Organization of African Unity (OAU) as the Head of the Legal Research Section (1982-1984). From 1984 to 1987, he was in charge of the Office of the Chief Legal Adviser. During Mutsinzi’s tenure as OAU Chief Legal Adviser, the Office played a significant role in bringing OAU Member States to sign and ratify the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as in the establishment of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Between 1985 and 1989, Judge Mutsinzi was in charge of Staff Administration at the OAU Headquarters. From 1989 to 1994 he served as the Chief Executive of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Banjul, Gambia. As the Chief Executive of the Commission, he, set up its structures, sought financial support for its programmes on Human Rights promotion and protection.
During that period he also had the rank of Head of Diplomatic Mission. From July to December 1994 he was the OAU Representative at the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in the Western SAHARA (MINURSO). Judge Mutsinzi was also in charge of the Legal Office at OAU from 1994 to 1995.
Outside the OAU, Justice Jean Mutsinzi served as a Judge of the COMESA Court of Justice (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, 2001 – 2003). He was also a Barrister-at-Law at the Court of Appeal of Lubumbashi and the Supreme Court from 1967 and served as the President of the Bar Association of the same Court (1978-1982).
Justice Jean Mutsinzi was also a lecturer in various universities. He was in charge of the Research Section in the Institute of European Studies of the Free University of Brussels from 1965 to 1966. Between 1966 and 1973, he taught Public and Private International Law, Maritime and Air Law, Constitutional and Administrative Law, etc. in the National University of Zaire. He has also been teaching Law at the Kigali Independent University.
Judge Bernard Makgabo Ngoepe (Vice-President)
- South Africa
Justice Bernard Makgabo Ngoepe, a national of South Africa, is among the inaugural Judges of the African Court. He was first elected as a Judge in 2006 for a two-year term and re-elected in 2008 for a six-year term. On 17 September 2013, he was elected Vice President of the Court.
Justice Bernard Makgabo Ngoepe holds graduate (B.Juris) and post-graduate (LLB) law degrees. He practised law for more than 20 years in various fields, including that of human rights before his appointment as a Judge of the High Court in South Africa in 1995, and Judge President of the same Court in 1999. Justice Ngoepe has also acted as Justice of both the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court of South Africa.
In addition, Justice Ngoepe is the Chairperson of the Appeal Panel of the Press Council of South African, and also the Chairperson of the Appeal Board of the Medical Schemes Council of South Africa. He has also served as a member of the executive committee of the International Association of Refugee Law Judges.
Justice Ngoepe has received several awards in recognition of his contribution in the field of human rights, including three honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD). He was also appointed honorary Professor of Law and a post-graduate scholarship has been launched in his name. The society of advocates has also launched and named an award in his name.
Justice Bernard Makgabo Ngoepe is the Chancellor of the University of South Africa since 2000.
Justice Kimelabalou Aba
Judge Kimelabalou Aba is a national of Togo. He was elected Judge of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights on 28 January 2013, by the 20th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, for a year and a half (1½ year) term.
Justice Kimelabalou Aba holds a postgraduate Inter-university Diploma in Fundamental (Human) Rights from the University of Nantes, France. He also graduated in Magistracy at the Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA) in Lomé (Togo). He, is also a, holder of a Master’s Degree in Business Law and a Degree in Private Law, both from the University of Bénin, Lomé (Togo). He also attended several trainings and seminars in the field of law, including trainings in fighting money laundering, funding of terrorism and cybercrime.
Prior to his election as a Judge of the Court, he was the President of the Court of First Instance, Vogan, in Togo. He also worked as Judge and Prosecutor, respectively, at the Court of First Instance in Lomé (Togo). He is also a Member of several committees in Togo, such as the ad hoc Committee that drafted legislation relating to information society in Togo, including cybercrime, electronic transactions and the protection of personal data.
Justice Joseph Nyamihana Mulenga (2008-2012)
Justice Joseph Nyamihana Mulenga S.C., a Uganda national, was elected a Judge of the African Court in 2008 for a term of six years. Justice Joseph Mulenga graduated from London University with a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) in 1965. The following year he became a Barrister-at-Law of the Royal Society of the Middle Temple of London, United Kingdom.
Prior to joining the African Court, Justice Mulenga served in the East African Court of Justice (2001-2008), initially as Vice-President and finally as President of the East African Court. Before joining the regional courts, Justice Mulenga served in the national judiciary in Uganda. He first worked as a Public Prosecutor in the Department of Public Prosecutions in Uganda, rising through the ranks from Pupil State Attorney to Senior State Attorney. He also served as a Cabinet Minister, first as Minister of Justice and Attorney General, and then, briefly, as Minister of Regional Co-operation (1986-1989). From 1997 to 2009, he was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of Uganda (1997-2009).
Prior to the judicial appointments, Justice Mulenga practiced law at the Uganda Bar (1967 -1997). He was also well known as a private practitioner of Law and consultant for his private firm, Kampala Associated Advocates. In addition to the legal practice, Justice Mulenga participated in Ugandan politics and was once a member of parliament.
Justice Joseph Nyamihana Mulenga passed away on Wednesday 29 September 2012 in Kampala, Uganda.
Justice Modibo Tounty Guindo (2006-2012)
Justice Modibo Tounty Guindo is from Mali. He was elected in 2006 for a term of six years. He served as the Court’s first Vice-President from September 2006 to September 2008.
He has previously worked as technical consultant at the Ministry of Justice, Mali, and served as a Judge at the Court of First Instance in Timbuktu, Mali.
Judge Modibo is a trained Judge, a graduate of the National School of Administration. Where he graduated with a Certificate in Magistracy.
He has been Judge for the past 29 years and has assumed various responsibilities both at the level of the Courts (President of the Justice of Peace, President of the Criminal Court, President of the Children’s Court; “Procureur de la République” (Attorney General), Puscine Judge at the Court of Appeal (the Civil Chamber, Rehabilitation Court) where he presided over sessions, President of the Trial Chamber, President of theLabour Court, Deputy Procureur General of the Appeal Court.
In the administration of the Judiciary, he was Advisor in the Ministry of Justice in charge of human rights; to that end, he presented the second Periodic Report of Mali on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Liberties before the Human Rights Committee in Geneva, he was a panellist in the United Nations inter-Agency Workshop on the human rights-based approach which started in 2002 in Stanford, the USA, he was an Expert at the Conference of governmental bodies in charge of human rights in Francophone countries, which held in Brazzaville from 25 – 28 April 2003; he proofreadthe draft document establishing the National Human Rights Commission, he was UNFPA Consultant for the realization of the Hurist Programme in collaboration with the OHCHR in Mali, in April 2003 for the implementation of the Project to strengthen human rights and support democratic institutions.
He was a Legal Consultant for the UNPFPA in Mali for civil status registration matters and this lead to the drafting of a new civil status legislation (laws and civil status registration documents).
Justice Kelello Justina Mafoso-Guni (2006-2010)
Justice Kelello Justina Mafoso-Guni is from the Kingdom of Lesotho. She completed her studies of law at the Universities of Lesotho and Edinburgh, before becoming Crown Counsel in her home country. She then moved to live and work in the United Kingdom, where she was a member of the civil service for 12 years. On her return to Africa, she served as a magistrate in Zimbabwe for a further 12 years, becoming the first woman to be appointed to the Bench.
Returning to Lesotho, Justice Kelello took up a position at the High Court Bench, another post to which she was the first female appointee. She was elected a Judge of the court in 2006 for a four year term.
Justice Hamdi Faraj Fanoush (2006-2010)
Justice Hamdi Faraj Fanoush is from Libya, where he is a respected judge of long standing. As well as being a member of Libya's Superior Council of Judiciary, he is currently Chief Justice (President) of the Court of Appeal in Tripoli. He was elected in 2006 for a four year term.
Judge Fanoush is a regular lecturer and trainer on human rights issues for the Libyan judiciary, and is generally dedicated to promoting human rights in his country.
Between 1984 and 1997, Judge Fanoush also served as Libya's ambassador to Cameroon.
Justice Githu Muigai (2008-2009)
Justice Githu Muigai holds a Bachelor's Degree in Law and was called to the bar in 1985. He also holds a Master's Degree in International Law from Columbia University School of Law, New York and a Ph.D. in Constitutional Law from the University of Nairobi.
He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK) and a member of the American Association of Trial Lawyers. In addition to law practice, he is an Associate Professor of Public Law at the School of Law of the University of Nairobi. He specialises in public law, human rights and transnational legal practice.
Justice Muigai is also the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
Justice George W. Kanyeihamba (2006-2008)
Justice George W. Kanyeihamba is a national of Uganda. He was elected Judge of the African Court in 2006 for a two year term. He holds a Ph.D. in Law from the University of Warwick, UK. He is a Professor of Law and held various positions in Uganda. He was a member of the Ugandan National Legislature, a Cabinet Minister, Minsiter of Justice and Attorney-General. He was also a Senior Advisor to the President on all aspects of governmental policy and actions in human rights and international affairs. He served as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Uganda from 1997 to 2009. He is also the Chancellor of Kampala International University, Uganda.
In addition, he served as an expert in International Refugee Law at the Special Meeting of Government and Non-Government Experts of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). This meeting was held on 27 to 29 March 2000, the 30th Anniversary of the 1969 OAU Refugee Convention, Governing Issues Relating to Refugees in Africa.
Justice Jean Emile Somda (2006-2008)
- Burkina Faso
Justice Jean Emile Somda is from Burkina Faso. He was elected in 2006 for a term of two years. At the time of his election, he was a member of the Constitutional Council of Burkina Faso. He studied Law and Economic Sciences at the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal and obtained his Master in Laws in 1981.
He has held numerous posts, including Minister of Public Service and the Institutional Promotion of Burkina Faso, President of the Bobo-Dioulasso Court of Appeal and Legal Adviser to the Minister of Justice of Burkina Faso.