Judges in Ghana complete UNESCO’s training on freedom of expression and safety of journalists

From 20 to 22 June 2022, UNESCO's Accra office organized a 3-day workshop to reinforce the capacities and knowledge of 25 judges on freedom of expression and safety of journalists in line with international norms and regional standards. This cohort of Ghanaian judges adds up to the over 23,000 judicial actors and civil society representatives trained on issues of free speech and journalists’ safety in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Arab region.
Ghana training on freedom of expression

The workshop, organized in partnership with the Judicial Training Institute of Ghana, brought together 5 Court of Appeal judges, 10 High Court judges, and 10 Circuit Courts judges from various parts of the country. The training is part of UNESCO’s Judges initiative to raise the capacities of judicial actors through on-the-ground trainings, trainings of trainers’ workshops at regional or national level and a series of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) for judiciary members and civil society representatives.

The training was opened by the Minister of Information, Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, who stated that the workshop should stimulate some keener response from the offices of prosecutors and the judiciary and urged the judges to punish perpetrators of attacks against journalists.

Yes, the wheels of justice may grind slowly, but the feedback I have from my media colleagues is that we believe quick punitive action targeted at the perpetrators of infringements against media practitioners will be appreciated.
Kojo Oppong Nkrumah Minister of Information, Ghana

The inauguration was attended by the Minister of Information, UN Resident Coordinator, UNESCO Representative to Ghana, Volta Regional Minister, a Representative of UNDP, the President of the Ghana Journalists Association, among other distinguished media sector players.

Among the experts who facilitated the training, Justice Edward Asante, President of the ECOWAS Court, was invited to present the role and functioning of the Court, as well as the main jurisprudence of the ECOWAS Court on issues related to freedom of expression and safety of journalists.

During the workshop, participants were presented with resource materials including UNESCO’s Global Toolkit for Judicial Actors and Legal Standards on Freedom of Expression: Toolkit for the Judiciary in Africa, to help contextualize participants learning experiences.

A Court of Appeal judge and national training expert, as well as newly appointed Judge of the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights, Justice Dennis Dominic Adjei shared his impressions about the workshop.

The training has been excellent. It has equipped the judges, built our capacities to handle cases involving journalists.
Justice Dennis Adjei Judge of the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights

The Country representative of UNESCO to Ghana, Mr Abdourahamane Diallo stated the need to train the judiciary on freedom of expression and the safety of journalists. He explained that advancing the course of freedom of expression is a major component for the respect of the rule of law and human rights. It is imperative to accomplishing the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly for achieving SDG 16 of promoting just, peaceful, and inclusive societies for all, he stated.

Reinforcing the knowledge and capacities of the judiciary will contribute to the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity adopted by the UN Chief Executives Board in 2012 and recognized by the UN General Assembly in 2013.
Abdourahamane Diallo UNESCO's representative to Ghana

The training, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and by the Multi-Donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists, aims to build a judicial system that ensures an enabling environment for freedom of expression, access to information, and the safety of journalists.

Since 2013, UNESCO’s Judges’ Initiative has raised the capacities of judicial actors on international and regional standards on freedom of expression, access to information and the safety of journalists in over 150 countries around the world. Over 23,000 judicial actors, including judges, prosecutors, and lawyers, have been trained on these issues, notably through a series of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), on-the-ground training and workshops for Supreme Court judges, and the publications of a number of toolkits and guidelines.