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Training African Judges on Environmental Law

25 Oct 2019 - 10:00

IMEL partnered with the Democratic Governance and Rights Unit and the Judicial Institute for Africa to run a week-long course in August for thirty judges selected from 11 countries in Southern Africa on environmental law.  The Environmental Law Course, which built upon the participatory approach and methodology adopted in the Core Skills and Specialist Courses offered by JIFA on a regular basis, aimed to contribute to filling the apparent void in environmental law expertise as judges in Southern Africa are increasingly tasked with hearing environmentally-related matters. Over the first two days, the judges were introduced by Sandy Paterson to the “generics” of environmental law. Thereafter, the judges were introduced to an array of particular environmental legal issues including: human rights and the environment with a specific focus on earth rights; wildlife crime (domestic and transboundary); climate change litigation; and managing the extractive industry. Experts on each of these specific areas were invited to run these sessions, including IMEL’s Olivia Rumble who convened the sessions on climate change litigation. Over the final two days, judges grappled with an array of substantive and procedural challenges they face in environmental litigation, with these sessions being facilitated by an array of judges including Justice Samson Okongo (from the Environment and Land Court of Kenya), Justice Brian Preston (from the Land and Environment Court in New South Wales); and Justice Chifundo Kachale (from the High Court of Malawi). During the concluding session, all participating judges highlighted the need for additional programmes of this nature to be run in the future.