Nigeria has promised to ensure access to justice for vulnerable persons and groups. The attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) made the pledge in Colombo, Sri-Lanka yesterday.
On behalf of Nigeria, the minister joined other 52 Commonwealth nations to brainstorm on major issues affecting access to justice, especially by vulnerable individuals and groups.
Malami said at the opening of three-day conference for attorneys-general and ministers of justice in Colombo, Sri-Lanka that the federal government was worried about the danger of hate speech and had called for collaborative action in addressing it because of its divisive tendency as an item for future engagement of Commonwealth nations.
In the main, the Commonwealth justice ministers will explore ways of strengthening and making the justice system in their countries more accessible to the citizens.
The minister, in a statement issued by his special adviser on Media, Dr. Umar Gwandu, said that the meeting, among others, reviewed the current state of access to justice globally and decried the lack of equal access to justice and rule of law which was attributed to factors such as complex legal system, cost and poverty, lack of legal aid financing, fragmentation of legal and justice providers, complex legal language, limited legal capacity, distrust of justice system, and corruption.
Malami, who described hate speech as a “divisive weapon jeopardising peaceful co-existence,” said that the 2019 meeting would also deliberate on contemporary key legal issues including electronic evidence, data protection, reform of civil procedure, international commercial arbitration, anti-corruption, access to justice and vulnerable persons in the justice system.
The meeting is also expected to discuss the relevance of and the opportunities presented by international arbitration to address commercial disputes between businesses in the Commonwealth countries as alternative dispute resolution mechanism.
Malami said: “In view of exponential increase in the use of electronic evidence, the meeting will also deliberate on the impact of the volatile nature of the technology in the probative value of evidence.
“The outcome of the meeting will see to the possible review of existing laws in the approaches to the use of electronic evidence in the investigation of cyber and traditional crimes in the Commonwealth nations.”
In her message at the meeting, the secretary-general of the Commonwealth, Hon. Patricia Scotland, said that the Commonwealth Law Ministers’ Meeting provided a forum for the exchange of ideas on connected contemporary legal intricacies of member countries with diverse cultural inheritances and similar legal and administrative approaches.