UNESCO Maputo organized training for judges on freedom of expression and safety of journalists

Last August, UNESCO and MISA–Mozambique (Media Institute for Southern Africa) organized a two-day workshop in Maputo for Mozambican judicial actors, in the context of the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. The workshop was organized in partnership with the Association of Judges, the Association of Public Prosecutors and the Bar Association. It aimed to develop the judiciary's capacity to protect freedom of expression and the safety of journalists, prosecute crimes against journalists and promote democracy and rule of law.

The event brought together 20 judges, 5 prosecutors, 6 lawyers, 6 editors and 3 representatives from the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Education and Human Development, as well as several representatives of the press. The work focused on strengthening the judiciary's knowledge on freedom of expression as a fundamental human right; the importance of the press in Mozambican democracy building; journalists’ roles, rights and professional ethics, as well as press-related offenses. The workshop particularly aimed at fostering a better relationship between the judiciary and the press, contributing to greater access to information about cases that are under investigation or at trial.

After introductory speeches by representatives of organizers and partners, the workshop offered a brief lecture and discussion about the relationship between freedom of expression and other human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, in the context of international and African regional norms. Following this discussion, participants revisited cases related to freedom of expression and press offenses, reflected on the legitimate limits to freedom of expression according to international standards, and potential ways to better protect journalists. Animated debates among participants on the role, rights, duties and limitations of journalists, and the role of the judiciary in protecting freedom of expression and safety of journalists generated many fresh perspectives.

This workshop took place in the wake of the recent signing in 2018 of a Memorandum of understanding between UNESCO and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to strengthen capacities of judges in Africa on standards and policies related to freedom of expression, safety of journalists and ending impunity for crimes against journalists.