The Fourth African Union Judicial Dialogue, which took place from the 28th – 29th October 2019 in Kampala, Uganda, was organised by the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Court) in collaboration with various organisations including the GIZ and the government of the Republic of Uganda. It brought together high level judicial officers from the African legal fraternity, as well as delegates of regional and international judicial bodies and other relevant organisations from the 55 African Union (AU) Member States.
The Judicial Dialogue is a biannual event of the AU aimed at improving networking amongst judicial officers, exchange of information and best practices and the proper administration of justice on the continent. The theme of this year’s Dialogue was 'Tackling Contemporary Human Rights Issues: The Role of the Judiciary in Africa.'
Seminar on Freedom of Expression
Alongside the Dialogue, a two-day seminar was held from 28 – 29 October 2019, gathering judges from African judiciaries on various topics around human rights on the continent. The seminar specifically aimed at parting knowledge about freedom of expression and access to information in Africa by informing judges on the international norms and existing jurisprudence on the continent and to foster exchanges between the African Court and the regional courts in Africa – especially the ECOWAS Court of Justice and the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) - on these issues.
The seminar was conceptualized and facilitated by UNESCO and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ)-funded Programme “Support to the African Governance Architecture (AGA II)” implemented by GIZ from the Portfolio with the African Union.
International and regional standards on freedom of expression as well as the right of citizens to access public information as well as recent attempts in restricting these fundamental participatory rights were discussed; as set out in both the Sustainable Development Goal 16 (“Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions”) of the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and Aspiration 3 of the AU Agenda 2063.
The attending judicial officers discussed vividly about how to domesticate the existing standards set out in the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) – two fundamental Governance conventions of the African Union.
A booklet on Freedom of Expression, referring to one of the landmark decisions of the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights, was launched and disseminated during the seminar.
Media training for journalists
Simultaneously, one-day media training took place on 29 October. The objective of the media training was to enhance awareness among young journalists about the AU Human Rights Protection System and the mandate of the respective AU Human Rights institutions to encourage them to cover human rights topics and stories in their media reporting. The journalists therefore learned in what cases citizens can access the Human Rights institutions, such as the African Court, and were technically trained on how to develop a human-interest stories about decisions that are taken by the AU Human Rights institutions.
The BMZ-financed AGA II Programme implemented by GIZ from the GIZ Portfolio with the African Union conceptualized and supported the training jointly with the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights.
Twenty five participants from the five regions in Africa (five from each region) and 30 local Ugandan journalists attended the training, exchanged information on the challenges they are facing when wanting to cover sensitive human rights topics in their respective countries.
A booklet on the Right to a Fair Trial, referring to one of the landmark decisions of the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights, developed jointly between the GIZ-implemented AGA Programme and the African Court, was launched and disseminated during the training in order to illustrate how to cover a real-life case on human rights.
Both booklets are available in French and English language and can be found on the GIZ website.