Quality Legal Education for Promotion of Justice in Ethiopia

1672

BY SOLOMON DIBABA

The Addis Ababa University School Law commemorated its  Alumnae Convention and 60th Anniversary of its founding in the presence of government higher officials from the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court and various institutions on  the 23rd of September 2023. Established on 23rd September 1963, Addis Ababa University school of Law is the oldest law school in Ethiopia, pioneering in legal education in both undergraduate and graduate levels.  The Law School was established with a mission to produce competent, ethical and responsible profession who can actively contribute towards the prevalence of the rule of law, equality, human rights, democracy, social justice, tolerance and development. The basis for the establishment of the Faculty of Law was laid down by the momentous decision to codify the laws of Ethiopia gave rise to the need of trained lawyers who could understand, interpret, and apply them.

 

Speaking on the convocation of the former Haile Selassie I University in 1961, the late Emperor Haile Selassie said, “We would ask for the immediate founding of a Faculty of law where our own students may be trained to enter the legal profession. Our empire has need, its government and its commerce for well-educated lawyers and particularly for those who have been trained in their own university, in their own codes and customs.”

 

The author of this article recalls that the completion of the codification of the laws of the country from 1951-1952 and the consequent issuance of the 1954 Revised Constitution backed up the establishment of such a school for training qualified legal experts. The writer notes that for 40 years out of 60 Addis Ababa University Faculty of Law was the only higher institute for training legal professionals in the country.

 

Over the last several decades the Law School was engaged in its flagship publication, Journal of Ethiopian Law. Nonetheless, the School was also publishing thematic research publications including Ethiopian Constitutional and Public Law, Ethiopian Civil and Commercial Law series and international law research papers on major contemporary local and global policy and legal issues are debated on regular annual conferences.

 

As part of its legal social services, the School is running 6 legal aid centers to provide general free legal services to local community members. Out of the 6 one center is reportedly dedicated to providing free legal services for refugees and asylum seekers.

 

Addis Ababa University School of Law Library established in 1964 boasts one of the finest collections of over 30,000 periodicals, reference books, over 10,000 e-books on law journals and dissertations. To date, the School of Law has graduated more than 6000 highly skilled legal professions who are currently serving in various government institutions.

 

Over the last several years the author recalls that members of the Law School have been participating in the legal reform programs the government undertaken. The professionals and scholars of the Law School are also networking with Justice and Legal Systems Institute. As stated by several speakers on the occasion, the author is of the opinion that the administrative autonomy granted to the Addis Ababa University could be exploited by the School of Law to further promote the prevalence of quality and practical legal education in the university.

 

The celebration of the 60th anniversary of the School of Law is of significant importance at a time when Addis Ababa University granted its autonomy very recently.  The autonomy status is also crucial in accelerating the growth and development of the school in its aspiration to become a preeminent center of excellence for legal education and scholarship in the changing global, regional and national order, he noted. 

 

The Addis Ababa University Law School can also serve as a unique center for the improvement of legal education in other public universities across the country by establishing projects that are geared towards building the capacity of the legal schools in these universities.

 

The Law School can assist in developing some kind of public legal education program in cooperation with CSOs and professional associations in the country. This is important because a huge gap is being observed in public adherence to the rule of law, conception of their constitutional rights and obligations as citizens.

 

The Law School provides lectures and seminars in English and new students are on several occasions challenged by their inability to comprehend legal concepts in their proper context. The author holds the opinion that legalistic English needs to be taught as a full course particularly for under graduate students who may also need extensive tutorial classes. This could be supplemented with practical knowledge with orientations on the practical legal technical application of the laws of the country at the various levels of courts of law.

 

The author would also like to stress on the growing significance of conducting researches on important legal issues pertaining to the protection of the environment, natural resources of the country, cyber-attacks, computer crimes and other crimes related to the modernization of the socio-economic development of the country.     

 

 

Ethiopian News Agency
2023