Tanzania

African lawyers protest as colleagues targeted by police, judiciary

International lawyers’ organisations have reacted with shock to news that colleagues in four African countries have been targeted by the judiciary, the police or other state officials, in a way that has stopped them carrying out their work -  all without a proper opportunity to be heard.

At least four African countries have become the focus of serious concern by the legal profession because of the way the judiciary, the police or other officials in those countries have been involved in harassment of senior practitioners, without allowing for the proper processes of the law.

Sudan: does it care a damn?

The highest court in the United States has just heard argument in a case that could have far-reaching implications for Sudan and perhaps for other countries said to be sponsoring terrorism. It concerns amendments to a key piece of US legislation and whether these amendments could apply retroactively, in this case to Sudan. That state has withdrawn from the litigation, refusing to participate in any way.

Courts and court documents usually epitomise conservative, formal language. Even advocates of simple English find it difficult to persuade some courts and lawyers to dump unnecessary legalisms so that ordinary people can read and understand decisions and related documents. Argument in court by counsel tends to follow the same rule: ‘clean’ language, usually conservative rather than conversational.

But now and then there’s an exception.

Conservative

Tanzanian judges: nowhere to hide under-performance

A new electronic system intended to promote citizens’ rights to access justice and introduced in Tanzania a few months ago, will allow anyone to read decisions almost immediately after delivery. The country’s Chief Justice explained how the system worked to newly-appointed judges at the start of their induction training in Dar Es Salaam this week. In addition to e-filing, the new system will see judgments loaded onto TanzLII immediately they have been handed down.

Tanzania’s judicial leadership has found a new way of keeping up to date with decisions by all members of the bench. As part of a commitment to using technology for improving court efficiency, all judgments will be loaded into the Tanzania Legal Information Institute – TanzLII – section of Tanzania’s judiciary website, immediately they are delivered. That means decisions of Tanzania’s judges will be freely available to the public as well as to judicial leaders for performance appraisal, virtually as they are handed down.

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