The UIHJ organised with the National Chamber of Judicial Officers of Congo on 27 and 28 October 2022 at a Ufohja training seminar in Brazzaville, Congo, coupled with the 30th Anniversary of the National Chamber of Judicial Officers of Congo. The event was placed under the high patronage of Ange Aimé Wilfried Bininga, Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Promotion of the Indigenous People of the Republic of Congo.
The UIHJ was represented by its President, Marc Schmitz, Jean-Didier Bidié and Luis Ortega Alcubierre, Vice-Presidents, and Mathieu Chardon, Secretary General.
For twenty years, the UIHJ has been organising training seminars within the framework of the Training Unit for African Judicial Officers (Ufohja) created for this purpose. About fifty seminars have since been given in all the member countries of the UIHJ that are members of Ohada.
This seminar was preceded on 26 October 2022 by a formal visit of the UIHJ delegation to the First President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Congo and the Attorney General of this high jurisdiction, in the presence of Jean-Didier Bidié and of Jérôme Gérard Okemba Ngabondo, President of the National Chamber of the Judicial Officers of Congo. Marc Schmitz presented the UIHJ to these high magistrates and gave them the Global Code of Enforcement, published in 2015, and the Global Code of Digital Enforcement, published in 2021. The latter did not fail to inform them of their interest in this work and thank them for the visit of the UIHJ delegation.
The Ufohja seminar brought together 200 judicial officers from the following fifteen countries: Belgium, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, France, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Niger, Senegal, Spain and Togo. The African Union of Judicial Officers (UAHJ) was represented by Issaka Moussa Dan Koma (Niger).
The theme of the seminar was: “The judicial officer at the heart of the transmission of legal and judicial information”. It was chaired by Jean Fernand Makosso, judicial officer in Pointe-Noire (Congo).
During the opening ceremony, Jérôme Okemba Ngabondo greeted the Chief of Cabinet of the Minister of Justice, Human Rights and the Promotion of the Autonomous Peoples of Congo, the representatives of the UIHJ and the UAHJ as well as the delegations present. He insisted on the importance of the enforcement of court decisions by recalling the Hornsby v. Greece of 17 March 1997 of the European Court of Human Rights, establishing that the execution of a judgment given by any court must be regarded as an integral part of the “trial” for the purposes of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. He insisted on the duties of the judicial officer in the exercise of his profession but also on the need to protect him. He finally considered that the law of 1992 establishing the profession of judicial officer in Congo required today a reform in order to enable it to meet current requirements.
Then Marc Schmitz thanked President Okemba for his warm welcome and greeted the minister’s Chief of Cabinet and all of his colleagues. He retraced the long history of nearly thirty years of relations between the UIHJ and the judicial officers of Congo. He recalled that these relations began at the time of “The Call of Dakar” of 1996, the first African international seminar organised by the UIHJ, mentioning the countries present: Benin, Burkina Faso, Congo, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal, Togo, and Tunisia, and that Congo was represented there by Saint-Auffray Louzingou and Alphonse Kibakala, both present and whom he greeted respectfully. He also recalled that these relations are all the stronger since Jean-Didier Bidié, Honorary President of the National Chamber of Judicial Officers of Congo, has been Vice-President of the UIHJ since 2018. He also greeted the seven successive presidents of the National Chamber of Judicial Officers of Congo, Saint-Auffray Louzingou, Maurice Bikambidi, Alphonse Kibakala, Jean-Claude Olombi, Jean Makosso Tock, Jean-Didier Bidié and Jérôme Okemba Ngabondo, for their actions which enabled judicial officers of Congo to reach a high level of competence and be among the leading countries of the UIHJ.
Casimir Ndomba, Chief of Staff of Ange Aimé Wilfried Bininga, who could not be in attendance, addressed in his turn his greetings to the UIHJ, the UAHJ and the delegations present. He insisted on the role of the judicial officer in his capacity as regulator of social tensions. He confirmed the commitment of Denis Sassou-Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, in the modernisation of justice, underlining the importance of the good morality of judicial officers and the progress of the reform project of the profession, “an ambitious but realistic project”, in cooperation with the National Chamber of Judicial Officers of Congo. He finally expressed the recognition of the Congolese State for the 5th Africa Europe meetings of judicial officers which were held in Brazzaville in 2019. He finally wished a happy anniversary to the profession of judicial officer in Congo.
The Brazzaville Ufohja seminar included five panels, preceded by a general introduction on the issues and prospects of service of documents by Samuel Ename Nkwane, President of the National Chamber of Judicial Officers of Cameroon, Secretary General of Ufohja.
The first panel, “The drafting of the document to be served by a judicial officer”, was chaired by Francis Ekondji Liloka, President of the National Chamber of Judicial Officers of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The speakers were Mathieu Chardon, Charles Coovi, President of the National Chamber of Judicial Officers of Benin, Abdoulaye Binate, President of the Regional Chamber of Judicial Officers of the Court of Appeal of Daloa (Ivory Coast), and Ozias Djerandoh Boukar, judicial officer (Chad).
The second panel, “The effectiveness of the transmission of legal and judicial information”, chaired by Samuel Ename Nkwane, brought together Brice Martial Baidou, President of the National Chamber of Judicial Officers of the Central African Republic, Chantal Bikay Ngando, Secretary General of the National Chamber of Judicial Officers of Cameroon, Bebe Raoul Da, judicial officer (Burkina Faso), and Rock Dieudonné Landze Mbere, judicial officer (Congo).
The official ceremony of the 30th anniversary of the profession of judicial officer in Congo, followed this workshop, in the presence of Casimir Ndomba.
The third panel, chaired by Jean-Didier Bidié, was devoted to “Electronic service of documents”. Marc Schmitz and Luis Ortega Alcubierre presented the progress in this area in their countries, in particular by showing two films made by the National Chamber of Judicial Officers of Belgium.
The fourth panel was chaired by Rigobert Dalou, member of the National Chamber of Judicial Officers of Congo, on the topic of “Responsibility of the judicial officer for the service of documents of his ministry”. The speakers of this panel were Alphonse Kibakala, Lionel Jospin Ngando, judicial officer (DRC), and Luc Sowah, President of the National Chamber of Judicial Officers of Togo.
The fifth panel, chaired by Jérôme Okemba Ngabondo, focused on international conventions and instruments on service of documents (The Hague Convention of 15 November 1965, bilateral conventions, (EU) Regulation N. 2020/1784). The speakers were Mathieu Chardon and Jean Ngandzi, Vice-President of the National Chamber of Judicial Officers of Gabon.
The summary report was expertly presented by Florent Mounguengui, President of the National Chamber of Judicial Officers of Gabon, member of the UIHJ Innovation Team, followed by the following recommendations:
- Ensuring the promotion of the Hague Convention of 15 November 1965 on the service of documents abroad;
- Initiating a reflection on the advisability of setting up a process to harmonise the cross-border transmission of documents to be served in the territory of the member countries of Ohada;
- Encouraging the digitisation of justice in general and especially digitising the service and notification of documents in the member countries of Ohada while ensuring that the judicial officer remains the main actor in the process;
- Promoting electronic service of documents in these Member States while ensuring that the judicial officer remains the main actor in the process.
The seminar ended by an exchange of gifts during the closing ceremony and a memorable gala evening which allowed everyone to continue the exchanges in a warm, friendly and brotherly atmosphere. The UIHJ would like to extend its congratulations to Jérôme Okemba Ngabondo and to the National Chamber of Judicial Officers of Congo for the perfect organisation of this Ufohja seminar and the high content of the work, and wishes a happy 30th Anniversary to the profession of judicial officer in Congo!