An event on Access to Justice and Technology and the Inaugural Commonwealth Legal Debate were held on the margins of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting today, with justice and legal industry experts gathered alongside student lawyers to discuss the ethical implications of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
The Commonwealth Lawyers Association, with the support of the Secretariat’s Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform, hosted a panel discussion on the use of technology as a means of improving access to justice, how to build an enabling environment for people-centred justice, and ethical considerations around law and technology. The session also showcased innovative technology solutions that can improve access to justice.
Access to justice
“Technology is not a luxury or an option; it’s a must,” Rwanda Minister of State in Charge of Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Solina Nyirahabimana, said at the side event.
The distinguished panel of speakers included the Chief Justice of Rwanda Dr Faustin Ntezilyayo, the President of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association Brain Speers, the CHOGM Conference Secretary and Senior Director of the Governance and peace Directorate of the Commonwealth Secretariat Professor Luis Franceschi, the President of the Uganda Law Society Pheona Wall, and the Director of Communications at Barefoot Law Gertrude Too-rom.
Minister Nyirahabimana (pictured) delivered the closing remarks to a full audience at the Park Inn, Kigali.
The Commonwealth Secretariat, along with the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, hosted the Inaugural Commonwealth Legal Debate immediately after the Access to Justice and Technology Innovation event.
During this parliamentary-style debate, four student teams discussed a debate question about AI, framed in the context of a changing and rapidly modernising legal world, while exploring the framework provided by Commonwealth values and principles.
Law students from four Commonwealth East African nations, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya, represented their respective universities in the debate and argued whether the use of AI technology in judiciaries enhances or detracts from the fundamental principles of access to justice.
Abiël Intwarane from the University of Rwanda and Rachel Jemba from Makerere University won the debate.
The debate was adjudicated by Brian Speers, the President of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, Pheona Wall, the President of the Ugandan Law Society, and John McKendrick QC, a Scottish litigator. John said:
"The Inaugural Commonwealth Legal Debate was an extraordinary demonstration of the talent of future East African lawyers. With such talented law students, justice will surely be delivered for the citizens of East Africa. It was a privilege to be involved in such a vibrant event."
The Commonwealth Secretariat looks forward to continuing this new tradition at future CHOGMs.
- Rena Gashumba Communications Adviser, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
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