How judges can help court reporters - plea from 2019 Judicial Dialogue

Unesco’s invitation to speak at an event associated with the Judicial Dialogue in Uganda last month included a request for practical ways in which the judiciary could ‘make life easier’ for members of the media who write about the courts. Here are some of the suggestions put to senior judges, and that made for interesting discussion.

Judicial accountability takes on an additional dimension in an era of online access. Sure, judges are held accountable through the judgments they write. But in an era of online access those judgments need to be available and in the public domain as soon as possible.

Access to law includes access to unreported cases as well

This is the second in a two-part series reflecting on free access to law and discussions held at the seminar on freedom of expression & safety of journalists for judges in Africa in Kampala, Uganda on 29-30 October 2019.

A recurring objection to universal online publication of case law by the legal profession is the perceived risk of ‘information overload’. Shouldn’t we rather focus on providing access to a smaller number of ‘reportable’ cases, through the mechanism of law reports? This issue was raised yet again by senior judges during the seminar in Kampala last month, and I wanted to take this opportunity to more fully flesh out my response.

Why has Uganda’s important new human rights law not been officially promulgated?

Hailed as a hugely significant step in promoting and protecting human rights, Uganda’s new law looked set to be an example for other African countries. But despite the hope and the hype around the new legislation, the law has not yet taken effect. This despite presidential assent eight months ago. Now the failure to publish this important new law is being challenged in court.

Four months ago, we published an enthusiastic story about a new law in Uganda. It was headed, ‘Uganda’s brave new human rights law takes enforcement to a new level’.

This important new law introduced a number of ways to ensure that human rights were respected, including holding state officials responsible for all or part of the legal costs if they were found to have infringed the new law, Officials would also be liable for part of any damages awarded.


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