Below is a list of some of the activities we have been busy with thus far:
Continental Conference on Collaboration between the Judiciary and Community Justice Institutions on Access to Justice, in Kigali on 22-24 August 2017.
The main theme for the conference is derived from a vision for a three-fold transformation of Practice, Policy and Perceptions in Judiciary and Community Justice Institutions (CJI) collaboration. The Conference influenced attitudes and behaviours across the entire value-chain of justice delivery from the community to the highest courts of the land in order to foster greater synergy, mutual support, and collaboration. It focused on existing practices (especially good practices) and policies; lessons learnt across different legal jurisdictions (e.g. Anglophone, Lusophone, Francophone and Arabophone); gaps; opportunities; solutions and innovations. The conference featured key stakeholders including; CJI practitioners, judges, policy makers, representatives of lawyers, police, development partners, academics, traditional or faith leaders and others.
Our primary goals were to promote the collaboration between the Judiciary and home-grown/Community Justice, to formalize this collaboration and to appeal for a formal recognition of the work of paralegals, home-grown/community Justice Institutions on the African continent. There were many topics covered during the conference and the panellists amongst which, Chief justices, Ministers, deputy ministers, academics, United Nation representatives, Representatives of Civil Society Organisations, Representatives of diplomatic missions, did an outstanding job of sharing their expertise with the participants.
The conference was the platform for the launch of the African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice (ACE-AJ), a Centre that will be a place that not only serves as a memorial to the struggles for social justice of Africa’s people, but will also serve to carry forward the traditions of African and international practices and thought-leadership in how best to craft a vision of a society that upholds human dignity and affords justice beyond the narrow legal conceptions to the most vulnerable sectors of society.
On the last day of the conference, the participants passed the resolutions that we call: “The Kigali Resolutions”. These resolutions will be adopted pending these amendments and signatures of different stakeholders.
The countries participating in the Continental Kigali Conference included:
– Democratic Republic of Congo
– Sierra Leone
– South Africa
– South Sudan
– United Kingdom
– United States of America
The Conference aims were to achieve the following:
1. Define the context, content and process of collaboration between Community Justice Institutions and the Judiciary.
2. Understand the policy and legal issues as well as structural and operational factors, e.g. the need to align Community Justice Institutions with constitutional and international human rights obligations (e.g. gender equality, rights of the child, etc.); due process requirements and administrative justice concerns regarding persons with an interest in a matter not being judges in their own cause, impartiality, etc.
3. Reflect on the practice, achievements and contradictions of Community Justice Institutions and judiciary collaboration (what are the gaps, achievements and setbacks).
4. Analyse the different forms and the emerging best practices and knowledge (e.g. paralegals, traditional and/or customary courts, etc.)
5. Define a knowledge management architecture and performance management system for the collaboration between the Judiciary and Community Justice Institutions.
6. Identify requisite capacity development required for Judiciary and other justice delivery mechanisms as well as Community Justice Institution activists.
7. Launch of the African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice.
Judicial leaders retreat 24-28 July 2017
JIFA will be hosting its first Judicial leaders retreat 24-28 July in Cape Town. It will be attended by 7 Chief Justices from SADC as well as 11 other senior judges. The faculty includes retired Justices Linda Dobbs ( DBE) ; Dikgang Moseneke; Kate O’Regan; the Chief Justice of Malawi and Supreme Court of Appeal of New York Judge Karen Peters. The Programme can be seen here.
Womens Pionner Mentorship programme funded by the Norwegian Embassy - 24 June 2017
The launch of the 2017 Western Cape South African Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges (SAC-IAWJ) mentoring programme will be held this Saturday 24 June at the Cape Town Magistrates Court.
This year, the programme consists of 30 students- 15 from UCT and 15 from UWC. There are also 15 magistrates available who will mentor them, ensuring that each mentor has two mentees.
This programmes aims to capacitate women students with practical legal skills and also expose them to the reality of law and the social justice issues in the country.
During the year, the students will amongst others attend court sessions, visit a prison, visit a Social care centre and attend a leadership training session run by DGRU on 16-17 July 2017.
Open Government Partnership
On June 14 2017, DGRU and the National Alliance for the Development of Community Advice Offices (NADCAO) convened a roundtable to review progress in the country’s commitment under the Open Government Partnership to strengthen the paralegal sector. The commitment aims to entrench respect for human and constitutional rights and redress service delivery failures especially in communities that experience minimal government presence. Participating at the roundtable were members of civil society, departments of government, the academia and members of the donor community. They strategized on strengthening and ensuring that OGP interventions in the paralegal sector are sustainable. One of its outcomes was a commitment by the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) to work with NADCAO to prioritize and ensure public participation in the passage of the Community Advice Office Bill. The Bill, when passed, will institutionalize the sector and provide allocations from the public purse.
Judicial Institute for Africa 24 - 28 April 2017
The Judicial Institute for Africa( JIFA), a joint initiative of the DGRU, Southern African Chief Justices Forum and ICJ- Africa , is hosting their annual core skills short course for judges . It will be attended by 24 judges from 11 SADC countries and will be run from 24 – 28 April 2017 in the Moot court. The programme is run by a core faculty of judges including Dame Linda Dobbs DBE ( Director of Programmes) and Justice Key Dingake ( UCT Alumnus and Honorary Professor of Public Law) , as well as a number of other judges from the SADC region. Academic experts such as Professor Penny Andrews and Professor Hugh Corder will also contribute to the programme as well as a team of post-graduate students from the faculty who will demonstrate some hypothetical scenarios around motions and applications. This project is managed by Vanja Karth from the DGRU
Judicial Services Commission 3 - 7 April 2017
The JSC held its interviews in Johannesburg. The DGRU, led by Chris Oxtoby, prepared a research report on the judicial track records of all the candidates. Click here to read the report. Chris Oxtoby and Tabeth Masengu from the DGRU observed all interviews.
Legal Practitioners Information Update - 31 March 2017
SAFLII in collaboration with the Attorney Development Fund, will be conducting training and information update sessions at various locations in South Africa for Legal Practitioners. Carina Pillay from SAFLII has been involved in training at these information sessions for legal practitioners.
Women Judges Association of Malawi (WOJAM) - 24-26 March 2017
On the weekend of 24-26 march 2017, the Women Judges Association of Malawi (WOJAM) hosted the South African Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges for a historical judicial exchange programme.
The workshop was funded by the Norwegian embassy in Pretoria and UN Women in Malawi and co-facilitated by the Democratic Governance and Rights Unit (DGRU) was held at the Sunbird Hotel in Lilongwe.
The workshop session opening panel was the Honourable Justices Mzikamande, Supreme Court of Appeal Judge, Justice Esme Chombo Supreme Court judge and President of WOJAM, Judge Zione Ntaba of Zomba High Court, Judge Malefshane Kgoele, North West High Court Judge and President of SAC-IAWJ and Ms Tabeth Masengu, Senior Research at the DGRU. The workshop focused on engendering legal research, equipping both judicial officers with research skills and sharing of best practices and existing challenges between the two organisations who are both part of the larger association for women judges. The first day included sessions on ‘Adjudicating cases on Women's Rights in the backdrop of Legal Pluralism’ by Judge Oagile Dingake of the Botswana High Court and ‘Research and the Law – The importance of Gender Issues’ by Dr Gaston Kamchedzera amongst others.
Day 2 had two panels sessions one of which was ‘Leadership and Women – Navigating the 21st Century’ with panellists such as Dr. Ngeyi Kanyongolo: A representative from UN Women Rep, Hon. Ms. Lunguzi, MP and Dr. Esmie Kainja.
It was agreed that this exchange was pivotal to both organisations as they had learnt a lot from each other and it should be the first of many to come.