More than 3000 Judicial Operators debating Freedom of Expression with UNESCO and its allies

Capacity building session in San Salvador.
© Supreme Court of Justice of El Salvador

During the first half of 2019, 3000 judges, prosecutors, public defense lawyers and other judicial operators were engaged in activities coordinated by UNESCO and several partners in Latin America.

Two Massive Online Course reaching all the countries in Latin America plus Portugal and Spain, a regional debate at the Inter-American Human Rights Court, a side event at the most important international conference on South-South Cooperation, national capacity building tailor-maid activities held in El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay: 3000 judicial operators joined these in-depth discussions on freedom of expression, access to information and safety of journalist during the six first months of 2019 and more is to come.

In alliance with several partners, among them the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, the Ibero-American Judicial Summit, the Ibero-American Network of Judicial Schools, Los Andes University, The National Endowment for Democracy, The Internet Society, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Judicial Systems in Peru, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Uruguay, the Government of Sweden and, the International Programme for the Development of Communication, the UNESCO’s Judges Initiative, coordinate by UNESCO Montevideo Office with our national and cluster offices in Latin America, continued its continental endeavor of enhancing the judicial systems as protectors and promotors of freedom of expression, thru which 10.000 judicial operators have already been trained.

Two MOOCs in less than 6 months

The year started with our 6 weeks MOOC offered by UNESCO, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights Special Rapporteur on Expression Freedom of and the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, in partnership with Los Andes University and with the support of the government of Sweden. More than 2200 judicial operators from all over Latin America joined the 5th edition of the MOOC.

This year, for the first time, with the support of IPDC and in partnership with ISOC, we also offered an in-depth MOOC on Internet and Freedom of Expression for those who had already taken the overall MOOC on freedom of expression: around 500 alumni joined this activity.

South-South cooperation is key for fostering the Judges Initiative

On the margins of the Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation (BAPA+40), held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 20-22 March 2019, UNESCO and its partners organized a side event to discuss the results and next steps of UNESCO’s Judges Initiative, with the presence of Judges, Regional Organizations, International Organizations and the Ministry of Justice of Argentina, underlining the potentiality of the initiative for South-South cooperation projects.

In partnership with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, we organized a regional debate at the Court on the judicial challenges in protecting Freedom of Expression in the digital environment.

Opening of 2019 WPFD at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, May 3rd, San José, Costa Rica © UNESCO

National capacity-building processes

During this first six months of 2019, judges, prosecutors and other judicial operators participated in trainings organized by UNESCO and its partners, with local judicial systems, in El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and, Uruguay.

In Guatemala and El Salvador, with the support of EFF and local judicial systems, more than 200 judicial operators participated in two-day training, in each country, on the challenges of protecting and promoting freedom of expression on-line.

Capacity building session in Guatemala, May 2019. © UNESCO

In Peru and Mexico, in alliance with the Los Andes University and local judicial systems, with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy, judges discussed with invited experts UNESCO’s Toolkit for Training Trainers on Freedom of Expression, Access to Information and Safety of Journalists, specially designed for the capacity building of judicial operators.

Finally, in Uruguay, with the support of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), the national school of judges started a six-months programme of training Uruguayan judges using UNESCO’s tools.

Capacity building session in Peru, May 2019. © UNESCO

Next Steps

During the forthcoming High Level Political Forum (July, 2019), The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Ibero-American Judicial Summit, the Conference of Ministers of Justice of Ibero-America Countries (COMJIB), and the Ibero-American Association of Attorney Generals (AIAMP), with the support of the Global Alliance for SDG 16, the Rule of Law Unit of the Executive Office of the United Nations Secretary General, UNESCO, the Ibero-American General Secretariat, the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies and the Inter-American Association of Public Lawyers (AIDEF) will organize a side-event to present the regional justice systems as key players that have a preponderant role in the promotion of peace, justice and solid institutions.

National capacity building processes will take place in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and, Dominican Republic with the support of IPDC, Los Andes University and the National Endowment for Democracy.

Finally, an special meeting with the national directors of the Latin-American Schools of prosecutors will take place back-to-back with the celebrations of the International Day of Universal Access to Information, with the support of the Government of Sweden.

/Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization/author(s)and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.