Attorneys-General and Ministers of Justice from 53 Commonwealth nations have commenced a three-day meeting in Colombo, Sri-Lanka, to explore ways justice system can be made more accessible to their countries’ populations.
Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, made this known in an interview on the side of the meeting. He represents Nigeria at the meeting.
A statement by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations to the Minister of Justice and Attorney general of the Federation, said the meeting with the theme “Equal Access to Justice and Rule of Law” will end on 7th November, 2019.
The meeting is x-raying the current state of access to justice globally and decried lack of equal access to justice and rule of law which was attributed to factors such as complex legal system, cost and poverty, lack of legal aid financing, fragmentation of legal and justice providers, complex legal language, limited legal capacity, distrust of justice system and corruption.
According to the Minister, the Federal Government has called for collaborative action in addressing hate speech and its divisive tendency as an item for future engagement of Commonwealth nations.
Malami who described hate speech as a “divisive weapon jeopardizing peaceful co-existence” said the 2019 meeting deliberates on contemporary key legal issues including electronic evidence, data protection, reform of civil procedure, International Commercial Arbitration, anti-corruption, access to justice and vulnerable persons in the justice system.
The Attorney-Generals and Ministers of Justice meeting also discusses the relevance of and the opportunities presented by international arbitration to address commercial disputes between businesses in the Commonwealth countries as alternative dispute resolution mechanism.
In view of exponential increase in the use of electronic evidence, the legal luminaries also deliberate on the impact of the volatile nature of the technology in the probative value of evidence. Outcome of the meeting will see to the possible reviews of existing model laws in the approaches to the use of electronic evidence in investigation of cyber and traditional crimes in the Commonwealth nations.
In her message at the meeting, the Sectary-General of the Commonwealth, Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC said the Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting provided a forum for exchange of ideas on connected contemporary legal intricacies of Commonwealth countries with diverse cultural inheritances and similar legal and administrative approaches.
She expressed the commitment of the Commonwealth to achieve the objectives 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda as well as the Commonwealth Charter especially in the areas of principles of equality and inclusiveness in fair and impartial legal process.