UNESCO strengthens the role of Judicial actors to address Freedom of Expression, Access to Information, and the Safety of Journalists in Mozambique

Within the framework of strengthening the role of judicial actors on freedom of expression and safety of journalists in Mozambique, UNESCO Maputo office in partnership with the Legal and Judiciary Training Center of Mozambique and the Brazilian National School of Judges (ENFAM) organized the first National Training of Judicial Actors on Freedom of Expression, Access to Information, and the Safety of Journalists in Mozambique.
First National Training of Judicial Actors on Freedom of Expression, Access to Information, and the Safety of Journalists in Mozambique. Maputo City, from 26 to 28 July 2022

The training took place in Maputo City from 26 to 28 July 2022, and reinforced the knowledge and skills of 30 judges and prosecutors on international and regional standards on freedom of expression, access to information, and the safety of journalists as well as on legal challenges related to the Internet.

The training was opened by the Director General of the Legal and Judicial Training Center of Mozambique, Elisa Samuel who stated that

The training should stimulate some keener response from the offices of prosecutors and the judiciary.
Elisa Samuel

The Director urged the judges to bring to justice the perpetrators of attacks against journalists and emphasized the joint action of the Institutions of the Administration of Justice in Mozambique to reduce impunity for crimes against freedom of expression.

Among the participants of the training were 11 women judges, including Ms Ivete Canjale, the judge assigned to the 3rd Criminal Section of the Court of Tete Province who stated that,

I’m leaving this training with a deeper knowledge of the crimes perpetrated against Social Communication. With this training, it was possible to learn that freedom of expression allows the full exercise of the expression of opinion, as well as exercising other fundamental rights.
Ivete Canjale

In addition, Mr Custodio Ferrão, who came from the District Court of Manica Province said that

The training was fruitful and the trainers brought us this reality that we did not know and that will, of course, help our performance in everyday life, so it was a very beneficial participation.
Custodio Ferrão

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.

Speaking at the closing solemn ceremony of the training —which took place at the Office of the General Attorney of the Republic of Mozambique on 29 July and gathered almost 100 participants— on the subject of law and freedom of expression, Marcelo Navarro Ribeiro Dantas, Minister of the Superior Court of Justice of Brazil delivered a keynote speech in which he defended that freedom of information is a right for all and has an individual and collective dimension, while pointing out the challenges faced by journalists with regards to new technologies, and the ease with which information —and misinformation— spread through social media networks.

Freedom of expression is essential and insurmountable because its functions are the full realization of the human being, the exercise of rights, and it works as a guarantor of democratic states. There are few admissible restrictions on freedom of information, and these need to pass the three-part test: legality, legitimacy, and proportionality.
Marcelo Navarro Ribeiro Dantas

In addition, during the closing solemn ceremony, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Constitutional and Religious Affairs, H.E. Manuel Didier Malunga, said:

Strengthening the role of judicial actors in crimes against freedom of expression must be continuous, as it is an action that cannot be considered as completed in just one day.
H.E. Manuel Didier Malunga

In conclusion, he added that with this training the country reaffirms the need for a judiciary system with properly trained professionals as crucial for the reduction and elimination of impunity rates of crimes related to freedom of expression issues.

The training was organized with the support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, within a wider project to strengthen the role of judicial actors on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists in Africa. To that effect, the training follows a regional training-of-trainers workshops that took place in Nairobi, Kenya, in November 2021, as well as a regional training-of-trainers for judicial actors from Portuguese-speaking African countries (PALOPs) which took place in Brasilia, Brazil, in May 2022, and which gathered judicial actors from Mozambique.

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 24,000 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.