From 27 to 30 October 2019 the Judiciary of Seychelles hosted the Southern African Chief Justices Forum Conference and Annual General Meeting (SACJF 2019) welcoming 90 delegates from 13 countries During this time, the Judiciary also hosted the Southern African Judicial Administrators Association (SAJAA) Annual Conference.

SACJF is a multinational forum of Chief Justices and senior judges from across Southern and East Africa. Established in 2003, SACJF aims to uphold the rule of law, democracy and independence of the courts through regional cooperation and solidarity. SACJF also facilitates judicial training and capacity building initiatives. Seychelles, the smallest member, joined SACJF in 2010. SAJAA represents senior court administrators and Registrars from the region. SACJF and SAJAA Member States meet annually in a different SACJF country every year, allowing the region’s most senior jurists and administrative staff to reflect on critical issues impacting justice delivery in the region. In 2018, Seychelles was given the honour of hosting these prestigious events.

Under the theme Without Fear or Favour: Maintaining a Strong, Impartial, Independent and Accountable Judiciary conference delegates discussed a broad range of issues that speak to the challenges faced by judges and the judiciaries on which they serve. In her welcome address, Chief Justice Twomey noted that “the aim of this conference is to reflect on our experiences and share lessons learnt with the ultimate aim of strengthening our respective judiciaries”

The 2019 Conference theme allowed judges to reflect on their ability to act without fear or favour and the impact that constitutional, political, legal, economic and social dynamics may have in hindering or advancing the maintenance of strong, impartial and accountable judiciaries. SACJF 2019 provided the platform to discuss individual and institutional aspects of judicial independence through a variety of lenses including, the appointment and removal of judges; judicial impartiality and accountable recusal practices; financial autonomy and the resourcing of judiciaries; and accountability mechanisms.

SAJAA 2019 allowed court administrators, which are essential to the administration of justice, to reflect on their role in supporting the judiciaries in which they work.

Through a series of interactive panel discussions, targeted questions and group work, SACJF 2019 allowed for the formulation of principles that can assist Chief Justices, governments and other stakeholders to advocate for the principled reform of institutional and constitutional arrangements necessary to create and maintain an impartial, independent and accountable judiciary. The Conference was formally opened by, President of the Seychelles, Mr Danny Faure who noted in his opening address that, “that democracy is not an event; it is a delicate status quo that requires the continued maintenance of a system of checks and balances that seeks to prevent the accumulation and abuse of power. The importance of the judiciary in maintaining and sustaining this status quo cannot be understated.”

The Judiciary is grateful for the support it received from the Government of Seychelles, Department of Foreign Affairs, the Commissioner of Police and the judiciary staff to ensure the successful hosting of this important event