The African Legal Information Institute (AfricanLII) and the Southern Africa Legal Information Institute (SAFLII) last week announced the Free Access to Law in Africa (FALA) Awards. The awards are instituted in recognition of actors whose support for access to law enhance value for legal information, while also expanding the frontiers of free access to legal information in Africa. Juta was the key sponsor of this event which drew the Lii’s from around Africa to discuss strategies for future collaboration to meet their mandates. In his opening speech, policy and advocacy lead Oluwatoyin Badejogbin said AfricanLII and Saflii are focused on facilitating unhindered access to legal information, but there is a complex context to these efforts that is often overlooked. 'The same applies to all the legal information institutes that are gathered here. We all work within a context that could make or mar, or stultify the highly beneficial social value that we bring to society, as has often been the case. Typically, it is the politics surrounding access to information that readily springs to mind when we talk about the context of our work – the pervasive lack of attention that policy makers pay to the citizen’s right to access information. In the more pertinent legal context, it is the tendency of policy makers to prioritise other developmental programmes, to only see the relevance of courts and the law when the exercise of public power is being challenged,' he said.
Public interviews for the decision makers in our courts are underway this week and not everyone agrees with the process.
We hear from Alison Tilley at Judges Matter and Tabeth Masengu from the University of Cape Town Democratic Governance and Rights Unit about the problems with the system.