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Judiciaries leading free access to law movement in Africa

Senior judicial leaders, including host Uganda’s Chief Justice Bart Magunda Katureebe and African Court President Justice Sylvain Ore, took part in the Freedom of Expression Seminar in Kampala, Uganda on 29 October 2019.

In the Case of Szücs v. Austria the European Court of Human Rights observed that ‘[t]he ability of citizens to access court decisions protects against the administration of justice in secret, and is a means to maintain public confidence in courts.’ Free access to court decisions in the African context was the topic of a presentation to a gathering of continental judicial leaders on the sidelines of the 4th African Union Judicial Dialogue in Kampala, Uganda last week.

Editorial: IAJ-ARG Conference 2019

Perhaps the most challenging session for delegates concerned the “conservatism” of too many judges in Africa, despite the potentially liberating effect of new constitutions. “Judicial timidity” and an “enthusiastic abdication of judicial responsibilities” in the face of a determined executive meant that the rule of law, constitutionalism and democracy itself were all at risk. In our view, training of judicial officers is crucial to address this problem: in a safe and supportive environment, judges need to reflect on what their judicial independence actually means.

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