African Bar leaders want focus on political, economic reforms

Mrs. Fatou Bensouda

Mrs. Fatou Bensouda

• As conference opens in Lagos

African Bar leaders conference has kicked off in Lagos, Nigeria on Sunday evening with a keynote address by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, (ICC), Mrs. Fatou Bensouda who urged African leaders to begin to focus on economic and political fortunes of their countries for overall development of the continent.

The conference has the theme: “Reducing Poverty and Promoting Sustainable Economic Growth in Africa through Reforms in Administration of Justice”.

This year’s conference which is hosted by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), brings together leaders of the legal profession across Africa to exchange and share practical experiences about reforms in the administration of justice on the continent.

In his opening remarks, president of NBA, Augustine Alegeh (SAN) on the second day of the event said :“There is need for African countries to embark on massive reforms in the Justice Sector. These reforms, if implemented, will foster increased economic growth and development in Africa.

Conversely, the failure of governments in Africa to address this issue of judicial reforms at all levels erodes public confidence in the judicial system and encourages the resort to self-help and extra-judicial means of dispute resolution thereby occasioning a state of total chaos and economic regression. “

The NBA executive director, Eire Ifueko Alufohai said the promotion and protection of the rights of Nigerians is another important component of the administration of justice programme.

He explained that in addition to NBA frequent interventions in areas of police reforms, prisoners’ rights, women’s rights, rights of the child and drawing the nexus between poverty and violation of rights, national discussions on the need to strengthen the Human Rights provisions in the Constitution, they are in partnership with the National Human Rights Commission specifically, as it relates to the promotional mandate of the Commission.

It is for this reason, that of the NBA recently inaugurated a Human Rights Monitoring team in the six states in the north east of Nigeria to observe and report back on the situation of human rights in those states.

“The NBA recognises that the right to vote and the need for the votes of the people of Nigeria to count is a fundamental human right. This is why we have been in the forefront of the campaign for free and fair elections.“

Ambassador Stanilas Kamanzi in his paper on Rwanda: “Justice After Genocide 22 Years On” examined how Rwanda responded to the challenge of bringing justice to the thousands of genocide perpetrators and victims alike, a task made more difficult by the fact that many judges lawyers and other judicial staff were killed during the genocide and much of the country’s infrastructure was destroyed.

The conference will end today.



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