Judicial Institute for Africa (Jifa) director Vanja Karth said there was a huge problem of access to resources to assist judicial officers and legal practitioners. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency
Judicial Institute for Africa (Jifa) director Vanja Karth said there was a huge problem of access to resources to assist judicial officers and legal practitioners. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency

New centre will train SA judicial officials in refugee law

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Aug 17, 2021

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Cape Town - The Judicial Institute for Africa at UCT, the International Association of Refugees and Migration Judges (IARMJ), and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have signed a memorandum of understanding in a bid to establish a new centre to offer training for judges, magistrates and lawyers on laws affecting refugees.

The collaboration would also include setting up a refugee law hub that would provide credible and up‑to‑date resources of relevant law and case law.

Southern Africa UNHCR regional director Valentin Tapsoba said the recent signing of the memorandum showcases the commitment of the IARMJ to improve the responses and solutions for refugees in the region in particular, and in Africa in general.

Tapsoba said the project aimed to assist UNHCR in meeting its mandate in the capacity development in the field of refugee law, policy development and strengthening refugee status determination.

Judicial Institute for Africa (Jifa) director Vanja Karth said there was a huge problem of access to resources to assist judicial officers and legal practitioners.

Karth said through their partnerships with 15 legal information institutes across the continent they have created subject specific indexes, making access to legalisation and case law easily searchable through a federated search tool.

She said the cases were tagged with relevant keywords and their team of students write summaries for each case.

"Through this partnership with the UNHCR and the IARMJ we will be developing an index that focuses on refugee and migrant issues, hosted on an African platform, but also shared with the UNHCR’s Refworld site, to ensure that African jurisprudence is available at a global level," said Karth.

She said they have always intended that Jifa becomes a resource and platform that all African judiciaries and African judicial associations could use and the Centre of Excellence is an exciting and positive step in that direction.

The memorandum stated that participants would receive a UCT certificate on completion of the course.

Gauteng Judge President, who is also the president of the African chapter of the IARMJ, Dunstan Mlambo, said the centre would provide much-needed training to officers and practitioners, as well as continuity.

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