Conceptia Denis Ouinsou
President, Constitutional Court, 1998-2008.
Dr. Conceptia Denis Ouinsou was born in Grande Saline, Haiti in 1942. For her primary schooling, she attended the Soeurs de la Ste Trinite and College St. Pierre in the capital of Haiti. Following this preliminary education, Dr. Ouinsou received her baccalaureate degree and subsequently went to the Universite d’Etat d’Haiti to receive a license of Social Studies and Administration. She eventually attended and graduated with a degree in Legal Studies in law school in Haiti merely three years later. As the valedictorian of her law school class, Dr. Ouinsou was enabled to earn a scholarship to seek a diploma in criminal sciences at the University of Paris II. Following this degree, Dr. Ouinsou acquired a doctorate in private law in also at the University of Paris II. She then immigrated to Benin in 1977 following her marriage with a Beninese man. Upon arrival, she taught at the assistant professor level at the National University of Benin. In order to become a professor, she sought her aggregation in private law, a competitive examination for civil service required for a candidate to become an agrégé able to teach at a professor level. In 1985, with this certification in hand, she rose through the ranks of the University of Abomey-Calavi becoming the Chair of the School of Law, Director of Academic Affairs, and finally Minister of Higher Education and Social Research. It was from this position that she was nominated to be the Counsel of Constitutional Court before becoming the President of the Court in 1998. Her fellow court members elected her to the President position. She served in this role until 2008 upon which she had accumulated several honors from the governments of Germany, Haiti, and Benin. She continued to teach at University of Abomey-Calavi until her death in 2011
Chief Justice, 2017-2019
Sophia Akuffo was the successor to the position of Chief Justice in Ghana after Justice Wood retired. She was appointed to the Chief Justice position in 2017. Justice Akuffo was born in 1949 in Ghana. She received her bachelors in law degree from the University of Ghana, following which she attended the Ghana School of Law from which she obtained her qualification as a barrister in Ghana, and called to the Ghana Bar in 1975. She also has a master’s degree in law (LLM) from Harvard University. Sophia Akuffo was originally appointed to the Supreme Court of Ghana by former President Rawlings in 1995 and served on the court successively until her appointment as Chief Justice. She is the longest-serving Supreme Court Judge in Ghana. She was nominated to the Chief Justice position in 2017 by President Nana Akufo-Addo, approved by Parliament, and sworn into the role by the President Nana Akufo-Addo. Additionally, Sophia Akuffo became one of the first judges for the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 2006. She was re-elected after her 2-year term for an additional 6 years. During this period, she served as the Vice-President of the Court for four years and the President for 2 years before she left the African Court in 2014. Besides working on the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the former Chief Justice was a member of the Disciplinary Committee of the General Legal Council and a member of the Committee of the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute. Lady Justice Akuffo retired from the position of Chief Justice in 2019 on the eve of her 70th birthday as the statutory retirement age for Supreme Court judges in Ghana. Since her retirement, she was appointed as chair for the COVID-19 fund by President Nana Akufo-Addo. The Fund was created in order to receive donations from the public to benefit those vulnerable due to COVID-19.
President, Constitutional Council, 2004-2010
Mireille Ndiaye was the first woman to reach the Presidency position on the Constitutional Council in Senegal. She was born in 1939 in French Togoland. Following her birth and primary schooling, she attained her law degree from the University of Paris and upon graduation worked in several different roles within the French judiciary. She became the Deputy Judge at the Dakar Court of First Instance, Advocate General at the Dakar Court of Appeals, Advocate General for the Supreme Court, and finally simultaneously the President of the Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation and Inspector General of Courts, both of which she held until 2001. She then became Attorney General at the Court of Cassation in 2001 and served for a year before reaching the Supreme Court of Cassation. Following that role, she became a justice on the Constitutional Council in Senegal in 2002. Eventually, she would become the first woman President of the Constitutional Council in 2004 and serve until 2010. Following her retirement from the Constitutional Council, she passed away on March 22, 2015.
Chief Justice, 2014-2019
Nthomeng Majara is the first woman to become the Chief Justice of Lesotho. She was born on June 8, 1963 in Lesotho. She was educated at the National University of Lesotho from which she obtained a bachelor’s degree in law in 1992. She also holds a master’s degree in law (LLM) from King’s College London where she graduated in 1997. Following her graduation, she became a lecturer at the National University of Lesotho from 1995 until 2000. Following her leave from the National University of Lesotho, her alma mater, she worked as a research associate at the Women and Law in Southern Africa Research and Educational Trust until 2003. Her next role was to be the Head of Internal Affairs at the Lesotho Revenue Authority. She only held the title for 4 months in 2004 until she became a Judge of the High Court at the Court of Appeals in Lesotho in 2004. She was appointed Chief Justice for the Court of Appeals in 2014 and held the position until 2019. In addition to these positions, she chaired the Commission of Enquiry on the Adoption of Children in Lesotho and became a member of the council of state. She also briefly acted as a judge for the High Court of Namibia in 2010.