UNESCO and ENFAM train judicial trainers from Portuguese-speaking African countries on freedom of expression

High-level judicial actors and representatives inaugurated the training, including Minister Humberto Martins, President of the Superior Court of Justice (STJ) and the Federal Justice Council (CJF); Minister Og Fernandes, Director-General of ENFAM; and His Excellency Mr Santiago Irazabal Mourão, President of the 41st General Conference and Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Brazil to UNESCO.

In his opening remarks, Minister Humberto Martins highlighted the importance of the right to freedom of opinion and a free press.

Everyone has the right to receive information, and journalists play a fundamental role in informing responsibly. Therefore, it is necessary to protect media professionals and provide conditions for an independent press. Information has the power to transform people and change lives. Without a free press, there is no democracy. Strong judiciary leads to a respected democracy.
Minister Humberto MartinsPresident of the Superior Court of Justice (STJ) and the Federal Justice Council (CJF)

The training was organized following an announcement made during the 41st General Conference of UNESCO of a South-South cooperation strategy between UESCO and the ENFAM to develop a set of activities to strengthen the training of judges and other judicial actors from Portuguese-speaking African countries in the areas of freedom of expression, access to public information and safety of journalists.

When the training of trainers course on freedom of expression, access to information and safety of journalists started, I had several expectations, as this is a contemporary subject that is not covered in our courses.  After a week of intense activities, I can say that the theme is much broader than I originally thought and of extreme importance in the defence and promotion of the fundamental rights of citizens. I return to Mozambique with the task of quickly incorporating this knowledge in the courses offered by our national training institution for Judges and Prosecutors.
Sheila Matavele CossaChief Public Prosecutor & Deputy Director of the Judicial and Legal Training Centre, Mozambique

During the course, participants had the opportunity to discuss the importance of protecting freedom of expression, access to information and the safety of journalists, including in the digital ecosystem. In this regard, the course highlighted that judges and magistrates have a fundamental role to play in contributing to building a fairer world by applying international human rights standards in their decisions.

I travelled to Brasilia with my ‘intellectual baggage’ about international standards on freedom of expression empty. I return to my country with an excess weight in my luggage. The course effectively added a lot to my knowledge on the subject and will be useful for my activity as a judge.
Eurídice Pina DiasCouncelor Judge, Supreme Court of São Tomé and Príncipe

Towards the conclusion of the training, tools and resources produced by UNESCO as a result of 10 years of dialogue and discussion with judicial communities on freedom of expression topics were distributed among all participants.

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. More than 23,000 judicial actors, including judges, prosecutors and lawyers have been trained on these issues, mainly through a series of massive open online courses (MOOCs), on-the-ground trainings, workshops and the publication of several practical toolkits and guidelines.