University Of Ghana School of Law Hosts 27th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition

The finalists behind the Bench

The 27th edition of the prestigious African Human Rights Moot Court Competition, hosted by the School of Law, University of Ghana, came to an end on Saturday August 11, 2018 with the final round being held at the auditorium of the Law Courts Complex in Accra.

The week-long annual event represents the largest and oldest gathering of law students, academics and judges from across the continent of Africa to argue and debate human rights issues. Since its establishment in 1992 by the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, over 145 universities, representing 49 African countries have taken part in the competition.

Dr. Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua (Coach) with Kezia and Aniela

The objective of the moot is to train young African law students on how to argue human rights cases before national and international courts and tribunals and to prepare them to work with and for African Union human rights institutions. It is also a platform to promote synergies and links between African law faculties, lawyers and academics, and to highlight the role of law and legal institutions in resolving conflict. The programme was awarded the 2006 UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education.

During the event, teams of students argue a hypothetical human rights case which is woven around topical human rights issues facing the continent before panels of academics, human rights experts and judges and attend a high-level one-day conference on human rights in Africa. For the 2018 competition, the issues argued centred around human trafficking, counter-terrorism, corruption, the rights of women and the right of self-determination. 

The event was opened on Monday August 6, 2018 by the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who had offered his personal support to the holding of the event by the University of Ghana from the preparatory stages to the end. In his speech, the President urged the current crop of law students to continue the human rights struggle waged by previous human rights defenders which led to the re-opening of the democratic space on the continent today. He said this was necessary to keep democracy alive on the continent and trigger political will on the part of African governments to accord greater respect to human rights. Among other dignitaries who spoke at the function were the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (ORID) of the University of Ghana, Professor Francis Dodoo who represented the Vice-Chancellor, and the Dean of the School of Law, University of Ghana, Professor Kofi Quashigah. Also in attendance were the honourable Minister for Justice and Attorney-General, Ms Gloria Akuffo, the Provost of the College of Humanities, Professor Samuel Agyei-Mensah, members of the diplomatic corps and the business community.

The preliminary rounds of the competition took place on August 7 and 8 on the premises of the School of Law and the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD), University of Ghana.

Another important attraction of the one-week programme was the organisation of a special forum on older people’s rights where participants took the opportunity to impress on African governments to sign, ratify and implement the newly adopted Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Older Persons. Among those invited to attend the forum was the outgoing Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Madam Otiko Djaba and civil society organisations including Help Age.

The students and their faculty representatives took the following day off to undertake an excursion to the Cape Coast Castle in fulfilment of the moot court’s goal of linking the participants to a historical site of human rights significance.

On Friday, August 10, a high-level conference on human rights, securitisation and counter-terrorism was held at the auditorium of the School of Law, University of Ghana. Two keynote speakers for the conference were Larry Gbevlo-Lartey, Esq, Director, African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRCT) based in Algiers, Algeria and the African Union Chairperson's Special Representative in charge of Counter-Terrorism Cooperation. He spoke on the “The Role of the ACSRCT in Promoting a balance between Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights in Africa.”

Dr. Katja Samuel, a consultant for the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) and Director, Global Security and Disaster Management Limited (GSDM), a keynote speaker also presented on “Upholding the Rule of Law in Counter-Terrorism Approaches through Education.”

The climax of the event was the final of the moot court competition which was held at the auditorium of the Law Courts Complex, Accra. Acting as Applicants in the case of Dr. Nduli Ayoze and the Luwos for Luwo Rights (LULURI) versus The Federal Republic of Jomero (FRJ), was a combined team from the University of Ghana, University of Nairobi (Kenya) and Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique). The Respondent State was represented by the University of Pretoria (South Africa), Makerere University (Uganda) and Université des Lagunes (Côte d’Ivoire). Judges on the panel were Professeur Laurence Burgorgue-Larsen (Professeur, Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and Judge of the Andorra Supreme Court), Dr. David Padilla (former Executive Secretary, Inter-American Commission of Human Rights), Dr. Attila Teplan (Head of Legal Division, Registry, European Court of Human Rights), Dr. Katja Samuel Professor Anastasio Miguel Ndapassoa (Docente, Universidade Católica de Moçambique) with the Honourable Lady Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana, Justice Sophia A.B. Akuffo as the President of the court.

Members of the Bench

After a display of high quality, vintage advocacy by the finalists, the respondents emerged as winners. Consequently, University of Ghana lost the opportunity to retain the trophy, having won the trophy in Mauritius last year with Université Félix Houphouet Boigny de Cocody (Côte d’Ivoire) and American University in Cairo (Egypt).  

The University of Ghana team however, made up of Miss Aniela Allottey and Miss Kezia Engmann, emerged as the best team at the preliminary rounds of the competition. In addition, Miss Allotey won the overall best oralist award with Miss Engmann coming up fourth.  Their written memorial also won third place, after Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and University of Cape Coast (UCC) which placed first in that category.

Aniela after collecting her prize as the Best Oralist

In all 15 countries; Angola, Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Uganda, Nigeria, The Gambia, Kenya, Ghana and Senegal and representing 50 faculties, schools and departments of law took part in the competition.

The Chair of the Moot Coordinating Committee, Dr Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua who also doubled as the team coach for the UG team, expressed the School of Law’s appreciation for the financial support provided by the following organisations to ensure the successful hosting of the event: the Norwegian Embassy in South Africa, the UNODC, the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation, Newmont Ghana, Bentsi-Enchil, Letsa and Ankomah and the European Union.

The bid for next year’s event was won by University of Botswana.