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Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting : Freedom Of Expression And The Role Of The Media In Good Governance

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The first session of the Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting 2022 (CLMM) was chaired yesterday by the Attorney General, Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Maneesh Gobin, in presence of the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, at the InterContinental Resort in Balaclava.

The CLMM is being hosted by the Attorney General’s Office from 22 to 25 November 2022 under the theme: Strengthening international cooperation through the rule of law and the protection of human rights. The primary objective is to advance Commonwealth consensus and cooperation and to enable Law Ministers to set clear directions on a range of legal, rule of law and justice issues of mutual interest to member countries.

Maneesh Gobin, and the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC
Maneesh Gobin, and the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC

In his opening remarks, the Attorney General recalled that the CLMM was held in Mauritius in 1993 and that hosting the event in 2022 once again demonstrates the commitment of Mauritius to adhere to Commonwealth values and principles. Speaking on the previous CLMM held in Sri Lanka in 2019, he indicated that there have been significant changes with the Covid-19 pandemic in the legal and justice field.

The main aim of the CLMM, he pointed out, is to reinforce cooperation among Member Countries and enable Law Ministers and Attorney Generals to discuss issues of mutual interests such as access to justice, courts of the future, law and climate change, mutual and legal assistance, and data protection.

Secretary-General of the Commonwealth
Secretary-General of the Commonwealth

Attorney General Gobin expressed optimism as regards the outcomes of the CLMM, achieving consensus on the discussions and said that he is looking forward to fruitful deliberations during the event.

For her part, Secretary-General Scotland highlighted that during the Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda held in June 2022, the Commonwealth Plan of Action on The Declaration on Access to Justice was adopted. This was an important achievement that advances the work Law Ministers begun on access to Justice in the Commonwealth and form an important framework to direct the Secretariat’s work on rule of law, she stated.

Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting - Participants Mauritius
Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting – Participants Mauritius

Speaking on the impacts of Covid-19 pandemic on health, governance, social and justice systems, she pointed out that democracy regressed by more than 30% across the world and courts were paralysed thereby giving rise to social tensions. “Justice transformation therefore demands a re-imagining and resetting of our legal frameworks”, she said.

The Secretary-General is hopeful that the theme paper to be presented by the hosts will build on the importance of international cooperation in advancing the rule of law and the protection of human rights. The Commonwealth Secretariat, she added, will showcase some of the works accomplished at the request of Law Ministers in various areas including contracts, climate change and anti-corruption.

Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting - Participants
Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting – Participants

In addition, she underlined that Law Ministers will also receive a paper on freedom of expression and the role of the media in good governance. The resources developed by the Secretariat with its partners are useful in the development of solutions for legal problems, she said.

The meeting, she indicated, is an opportunity to craft a new legal settlement for the Commonwealth; transform justice systems in the wake of new challenges; enable efficient delivery of swift, fair, effective and principled justice; and strengthen the relationship between the work of Law Ministers, and the Commonwealth to realise the values and aspirations of our Charter.

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