Ethiopia’s Chief Justice on UK working visit

19 Nov 2019

The Honourable Ms Meaza Ashenafi, the President of the Federal Supreme Court of Ethiopia, led a delegation of senior Ethiopian judges on a first working visit to the United Kingdom in mid-November.

Meaza Ashenafi is Ethiopia’s first female Supreme Court President

The Chief Justice and her Delegation were visiting the United Kingdom for a series of meetings and consultations with the country’s senior judiciary and justice-sector institutions as part of efforts to strengthen cooperation in the rule of law and advance judicial reform in Ethiopia.

Accompanying the Chief Justice of Ethiopia were the Honourable Mr Fuad Kiyar, President of the Federal First Instance Court, the Honourable Ms Ruta Gebretsadik Alemayehu, Civil Bench Judge at the Federal Supreme Court, the Honourable Mr Mulusew Dires Fentie, Commercial Bench Judge at the Federal High Court and Ms Abigeya Getachew Wolde, Reform Coordinator/Legal Assistant in the Office of the Chief Justice.

During their week of engagements, the Delegation met senior judges and legal professionals from the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, the Royal Courts of Justice, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) and the Administrative Court of England and Wales. The Delegation were also able to observe legal proceedings in these courts as part of the experience-gathering component of the trip.

On the margins of the visit, the Honourable Chief Justice delivered the keynote address for the International Rule of Law Lecture 2019 hosted by the General Council of the Bar on championing judicial independence during the democratic transition.

Later in the week, the Chief Justice sat on a panel hosted at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on “Women in the Law”. Eminent personalities at the Women in Law event included Lady Arden of Heswall – Supreme Court Justice; Baroness Helena Kennedy QC – Barrister and Member of the House of Lords; and Professor, writer and broadcaster, Afua Hirsch.

The “Women in Law” panel

The Delegation concluded their working visit with a roundtable discussion held at the Ethiopian Embassy in London with UK legal professionals of Ethiopian descent. The Chief Justice and her colleagues briefed participants on the state of judicial reforms currently being undertaken in Ethiopia, before encouraging Ethiopian lawyers abroad to contribute their share to the success of these reforms. Honourable Meaza remarked that, though challenges still remain, the judiciary is now free of undue political pressure from the Executive – a landmark in Ethiopia’s history. The briefing was followed by a lively question and answer segment, which saw legal professionals from the Diaspora, specialising in various areas of the law, able to raise questions about the state of the judiciary and legal sector in Ethiopia.

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