Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was not possible for the Moot Court to take place in its usual format or on the scheduled dates (3-8 August). The format of the competition has been adjusted for 2020. The semi-final and final rounds have been rescheduled to take place later in the year in December while the preliminary rounds will be held virtually through video conference in September and October.
The African Human Rights Moot Court is the largest gathering of students, academics, and judges around the theme of human rights in Africa. The event brings together all law faculties in Africa, whose students argue a hypothetical human rights case as if they were before the African Court on Human and People’s Rights. 170 universities from 50 African countries have taken part. The Moot Court has been a catalyst for the establishment of the leading programmes in the field of human rights teaching and research in Africa, according to the website.
In the preliminary rounds, a team will argue the problem twice: once as applicants, and once as respondents. Previously, teams argued the case four times. Since the preliminary rounds will be held virtually, it would be logistically impossible to have the teams argue four times. The judges in these rounds will be panels consisting of selected legal practitioners and academics. Previously, preliminary rounds were judged by panels consisting of faculty representatives and coaches.
“The format of the competition has been adjusted for 2020.“
The Project Coordinator of the African Human Rights Moot Court Competition, Yusuf Sayaad, mentions that, “as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, there would be limitations by participants to properly prepare for the competitions. Participating teams will have to come up with plans to mitigate such limitations. One of the reasons that prompted us to change the format of the competition was the realisation that most teams would be hampered in their efforts to fundraise for their trips to Dakar, Senegal, and we decided to conduct the preliminary rounds virtually (via videoconferencing)”.
According to a statement, the rules of the competition have been amended to fit the adjusted form of the competition, and while the organisers regret not being able to organise the competition on the initially scheduled dates, they feel this is a responsible course of action to take under the current circumstances. The competition continues to provide a platform for law students and academics to learn and exchange ideas.If prevailing circumstances do not allow for in-person semi-final and final rounds to be in Dakar, these rounds will also take place virtually.
Visual: Mashudu Madzhiga