News & Events

Feb 28, 2019

The Official Launch Ceremony of the CSL

The Center for Strategic Litigation was officially launched on 28th day February, 2019 at the Dar es Salaam Serena Hotel in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The Former Chief Justice and Supreme Court President of Kenya , Hon. Dr. Willy Munyoki Mutunga, was the guest of honor at the event.  Apart from launching the Organization; he also officially launched the CSL’s 5 Year Strategic Plan and its website during the event.

The Speakers during the official launch ceremony were:

  • Professor Yash Pal Ghai – Founding Director, Katiba Institute, Kenya
  • Jill Cottrell Ghai – Founding Director, Katiba Institute, Kenya
  • Professor Issa Shivji – Director, Nyerere Resources Center

During their remarks, Prof. Yash and Jill insisted on the need to approach Public Interest Litigation not as an end in itself but a means to achieve social justice and societal reforms. They both shared their experience in founding Katiba Institute and their vision of a regional organization that would spur conversation the region on constitutionalism and rule of law. The audience was drawn to appreciate that the judiciary may not always be independent and it is important to shed a light on accountability in the judiciary in the quest for justice. How a case is built and communicated to the public is key in mobilizing public support and therefore CSL will have to spend considerable time engaging with the constituency while doing litigation.

Prof. Shivji shared his experience as Chair of the University of Dar es Salaam Legal Aid Committee and how they engaged with the public in doing litigation. He explained how their work was driven by a passion and commitment to social justice and noted that times have indeed changed and the onus is on CSL to reflect deeply on the current context. A few questions were posed in that regard: 1) Which Public do you want to serve in Public Interest Litigation? 2) Can you speak truth to power through litigation? CSL was challenged to consider these two key challenges in shaping and guiding their work.

The Guest of Honor brought commended the founding members and board of the Center for conceiving the idea of the center and for inviting him to witness the launch of the noble idea. He challenged the audience to consider Tanzania’s unique role in the liberation of other African state and its model of democracy, which inspired many others in the region. CSL has a critical role to play in defending and promoting rule of law so that the country retains its leadership role in the region. Dr. Mutunga challenged CSL to appreciate that Public Interest Litigation is not exclusively legal but rather has an important political dimension. There in doing litigation it is important to be politically intelligent and to have a political strategy around the litigation. The former Chief Justice reminded the audience that even in the midst of impunity within the judiciary, there is also the “Court of Public Opinion” which does matter in doing public interest litigation. When the courts do not serve justice as expected the public will be the final judge.

The launch brought together a diverse list of participants from the Diplomatic Community, Academicians Civil Society, media and the legal fraternity both in Tanzania and in the East African Region. Besides the official launch of the organization, it also featured the launch of the organization’s website and its five year strategic plan.