Kenya Law and AfricanLII conduct a training on Media Communication and Judgment Reporting for the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Arusha
By Njeri Githanga
The National Council for Law Reporting (Kenya Law) in conjunction with AfricanLII conducted a training and capacity rationalisation for the African Court on Human and People’s Rights in Arusha, Tanzania on the 18th and 19th of October 2018.
The training was informed by the fact that the jurisprudence of the African Court is of paramount importance for the development of the human rights framework in the continent. It is important that, as such, it is widely disseminated, understood and incorporated, where applicable, by national justice sector institutions, lawyers, judges, academics, etc. as well as the media and, ultimately, the general public. African Court plans to develop authoritative judgment summaries to be released alongside official copies of judgments. The Registry was exploring options to enable it to build internal capacity to digest, summarize and index cases. The purpose of the training was therefore to ensure that the Court was able to better prepare case summaries and communicate them to the general public.
Kenya Law and AfricanLII having developed a law reporting training programme which has been in operation since 2012 convened and coordinated the training.
The training session targeted African Court staff from the Legal Division, Language Unit, Communication Unit and the Office of the Registrar.
The training had input and participation from a wide range of experts across all aspects of legal publishing, such as:
- Mr. Long’et Terer, CEO/Editor, Kenya Law.
- Dr. Magnus Killander, Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria.
- Ms. Carmel Rickard, Legal Journalist and Editor-in-Chief for the Judicial Institute for Africa (JIFA).
- Ms. Amy Sinclair, International Human Rights law project Coordinator at AfricanLII and former law clerk to the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa and Supreme Court of Western Australia.
- Ms. Njeri Githanga. Senior Law Reporter, Kenya Law.
The training on the first day kicked off with a key note address from Mr. Long’et Terer, CEO/Editor (Kenya Law). The address focused on access to legal information and the opportunities for the collaboration that expand and open new frontiers for the access to law
The presentations explored international best practices for communicating case materials and judgments to various audiences. Specifically, the presentation focused on: the lifecycle of an international court case, the current practice of the African Court and the practice of other international and regional courts. The participants also reviewed international best practices based on case studies from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), International Criminal Court (ICC), and International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Draft guidelines for preparation of Case information sheet and Judgment summaries were also discussed.
In the afternoon, the participants in small groups prepared a pre-hearing/post-judgment press release in line with principles and strategies explored in the morning sessions. The lessons learnt from the practical exercise were discussed and it was agreed that the draft guidelines would be adopted subject to a few amendments.
On the second day, the training focused on preparation of Law Reports. Kenya Law presented on the law reporting practices and processes at Kenya Law. Detailed information on the internal workflows, selection procedures and rules as well as the editorial guidelines in judgment editing was shared.
Other issues discussed included, privacy in law reporting, medium neutral citation, plain legal language and handling of versions in translations and corrections.
In the afternoon, the participants in small groups prepared a judgment summary in line with principles and strategies explored in the morning sessions. The lessons learnt from the practical exercise were discussed and it was agreed that there was need to further benchmark with other regional courts and adopt the best practices.