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Assisting Eritrea with capacity building for the Judiciary and Legal System

Norway's State Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Jøran Kallemyr and Eritrea's Ministry of Justice, Fozi Hazim, hold up new Criminal and Penal Codes of Eritrea

By Ruby Sandhu

Following a Letter of Invitation from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sir Peter Cresswell undertook a scoping visit to Eritrea in February, with funding provided by the FCO’s Magna Partnership Fund.

A number of preliminary areas of discussion were proposed, namely:
  1. Discussion of laws and a court appropriate to the free port of Massawa (which will serve to attract and sustain international business). 
  2. Meeting with legal experts in the Ministry of Justice to appraise the commercial code under revision as well as Eritrea’s maritime laws. 
  3. Discussion of specific laws pertaining to arbitration and mediation and the settlement of disputes that may be incorporated into business agreements that Eritrea signs with foreign investors.
  4. Discussion with the Law School in Asmara.
A full programme of meetings with senior judges, Ministers including the Minister of Justice and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Attorney General, the Head of the Law School in Asmara, the EU Ambassador, the FCO and others was organised to cover the matters above. Sir Peter also gave a lecture to a group of mainly 5th year students on methods of dispute resolution for disputes between individuals, companies and states. He visited the Port of Massawa and attended an event organised by the National Union of Eritrean Women (NUEW) which was also attended by a number of foreign Ambassadors and UN representatives.

Sir Peter was the first English judge to visit Eritrea in five years. His visit had been supported by Seble Ephrem, a member of the Eritrean Diaspora living in England and Ruby Sandhu, an English solicitor who worked with the Law Society in the field of business and human rights and both were present at all major meetings throughout his visit.

A formal request has now been received from the Minister for Foreign Affairs for the Foundation to return to Eritrea and assist the Government’s efforts to strengthen its judicial system. It is hoped that the Foundation will be able to procure further funding from the FCO to meet this request.
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