19 May 2017 - This month marked a period of promising engagement with Judicial Associations from over ten African countries and mutual agreement around the priority needs of Mozambique to strengthen its judicial integrity framework. As part of ongoing work under the Doha Declaration Global Programme, UNODC attended the annual meeting of the Africa group of the International Association of Judges (IAJ) in Maputo where the theme of judicial independence was discussed, as well met key Mozambican judicial figures to discuss strengthening the country's integrity framework.
The conference, which was opened by Mozambique's Minister of Justice, Constitutional and Religious Affairs, Isac Chande, brought together a diverse range of countries from across the continent and offered an important step in understanding the areas that matter most in continued efforts to strengthening judicial integrity. Algeria, Angola, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal and South Africa all attended and their inputs will be central in helping to develop the focus and priorities of the forthcoming Global Judicial Integrity Network in this part of the world. Key themes that emerged include the politicization of the judiciary, the need for financial autonomy and consistent concerns for the safety and security of judges.
At the conference, UNODC Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer, Francis Burak, highlighted the particular need for the implementation of international judicial integrity instruments to be conducted sensitively and in line with the specific needs of individual jurisdictions. He also presented proposals for the launch of the Global Judicial Integrity Network planned for 2018 - a presentation that triggered valuable discussion on a range of issues, and highlighted the clear interest on the part of African Judicial Associations to be involved in the important planned work of the Network.
Coinciding with the conference, an assessment of the key needs of the Mozambique judiciary to strengthen the integrity framework and the training capacity for Judicial Magistrates was also undertaken. The Mozambique Judicial and Judiciary Training Centre ( Centro de Formação Jurídica e Judicial) which houses an academic research department and a dedicated teaching campus, will act as UNODC's partner for the delivery of judicial ethics training to Mozambican Magistrates, and, later on, to other Portuguese-speaking countries. The collaboration with the Centre may also include the piloting of blended learning judicial ethics training tools, currently being developed by UNODC.
Additional potential areas for collaboration in judicial integrity issues emerged from a multi-stakeholder roundtable discussion between the Judicial Integrity Team and various national actors, such as members of the Prosecutor's General Office, Court Registrars, the National Prisons Service, the Ministry of Justice, the Federal Ethics Commission, Academia, the Bar Association, the Assembly of the Republic, the Supreme Court and the Superior Councils for Judges and Prosecutors.