Call for enrollments: Massive Open Online Course on freedom of expression for African judges

03 November 2017

Judges, judicial officers, prosecutors, parliamentarians and lawyers are invited to enroll in the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on freedom of expression, access to information and the safety for journalists in Africa. The free, online course starts on 13 November 2017, and is offered by the Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria and UNESCO.

The five-week course will elaborate on the international and regional legal frameworks of freedom of expression and relates issues. It will furthermore expand on challenges to freedom of expression in the digital age, especially in the African context. Case studies will also be relied upon to ensure in-depth and multi-faceted understanding of the course content. The course is also open for journalists, civil society, bloggers, human rights advocates, academics and others interested in the topic.

Registration to the course is free and can be access on this link.

Video lectures will be given by the Vice-President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Justice Ben Kioko, and Commissioner Pansy Tlakula, former Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information and Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Other trainers of the online course are UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General of Communication and Information, Frank La Rue and the Director of the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights, Prof Frans Viljoen.

The online course was preceded by a three-day seminar in Pretoria, South Africa, where judges from 13 African countries participated as well as a judge from the Economic Community of West Africa Court. In a video message welcoming the judges, Frank la Rue said: “You, the African judges, are of great importance for the defense of human rights on the continent.”

By the end of the course, participants will be familiar with the existing international, regional and sub-regional legal frameworks and mechanisms for the promotion and protection of freedom of expression, access to information, safety of journalists and related issues in Africa. It will elaborate and use various examples of landmark decisions that have previously been given by regional and sub-regional courts in Africa. The ECOWAS Court of Justice as well as the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights delivered various judgements on the issue of defamation and investigating the murder of journalists.

As judicial officers are essential partners in the development, interpretation, implementation and enforcement of laws, the course will provide them with the opportunity to increase their knowledge on issues related to freedom of expression, press freedom and the safety of journalists. Hence, they will be able to further contribute to ensuring a safe environment for journalists, good governance and more transparency through improving access to public information. The participants completing the MOOC will receive a certificate from Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria and UNESCO. This initiative builds on experience of such a course in Latin America where more than 5000 judges and legal professionals have been trained in over three years.

This project is implemented in the framework of the UN Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, which aims to create a free and safe environment for journalists and media workers.

The project received the support of Denmark and Open Society Foundations, with a technical contribution supported by Norway.