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The East African Judicial Education Committee (EAJEC) meeting that brought together Heads of National Judicial Training Institutes (JTIs) and Registrars responsible for National Judicial Training Institutes in East African member States has been held in Kigali from 16th May and ended on 18th May 2018. Participants from the Republic of Kenya, Republic of Uganda, Republic of South Sudan, and the Republic of Rwanda, the host, were present. The Republic of Burundi and the United Republic of Tanzania were not represented due to the reasons undisclosed to the organizers and participants.
In his opening remarks, His Lordship, the Honorable Chief Justice of Rwanda, Professor Sam RUGEGE welcomed all participants and in his speech, also hinted on some of the barriers that prevent trained lawyers within the East African Community to enjoy the benefits of the Integration. Citing the unfortunate example of the students coming from different EAC Member States and even beyond that are trained at the Rwanda’s Institute of Legal Practice and Development (ILPD) for the acquisition of the Diploma in Legal Practice (DLP) but who, upon graduation, are facing difficulties to access their respective home country practices, said that it needs to be addressed forthwith as it contradicts the commitments from the EAC Member States for the free movement of People and Services to which, Legal Services form part.
Responding to this concern, Honorable Lady Justice Mary Stella Arach AMUKO, the Presiding member of the EAJEC, a Justice of the Supreme Court of Uganda and the Chairperson of the Governing Council of the Judicial Training Institute (JTI) of Uganda who was also chairing the meeting in Kigali, said that, they needed to harmonize the judicial training and judicial education in the region as they are one people, and she noted that the legal issues within the EAC are closely the same. She added that they were going to discuss all issues that affect the harmonization of Judicial Education and Training within the EAC and provide suggestions and proposals to higher authorities which will help Member States and their respective organs and bodies to align their policies to the integration’s ultimate goals and objectives.
The meeting noted that the issue of barriers to the Cross-Border practice was not about the traditional Legal Systems (Common Law and the Civil Law) since even among the Member States that share the Legal System, access to practice is not automatic. It was suggested that this issue be addressed through the harmonization of Judicial Education and Training where curriculum should be jointly prepared and discussed. During the meeting, Rwanda’s hybrid legal system was also noted and the meeting encouraged member States to subscribe to the system that best addresses and suits to their home legal problems and they noted that it is what makes the Legal System more relevant to the local population.
This committee has the responsibility to harmonize the Judicial Education and Training, legal understanding of various topics in the region and, for this particular meeting, their focus was on gender and child right, Harmornization of Judicial Education in the EAC, among others.
The Institute of Legal Practice and Development (ILPD) is a member of this EAJEC and of the International Organization of Judicial Training Institutes (OIJT) and so, many international students from the EAC and various other African countries including Ghana, Cameroon, The Gambia, among others, train from here (at ILPD) for their Diploma in Legal Practice (DLP) program.