AALL 2019 Recap: FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant Presentation – African Law for Everyone: AfricanLII and Laws.Africa

By: Loren Turner

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On Monday, July 15, 2019, the 2019 FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant recipient, Mariya Badeva-Bright, who leads the AfricanLII project at the University of Cape Town, South Africa (and recently co-founded Laws.Africa, a legislative commons), delivered a fantastic presentation titled “African Law for Everyone: AfricanLII and Laws.Africa.” Mariya’s presentation was a summary of her motivations and processes for gathering and digitizing African law as well as a “call to action” to law librarians worldwide for help in making African law accessible to all.

African Law for Everyone: AfricanLII and Laws.Africa

Mariya began her presentation by stating that there is no reliable, consistent, and up-to-date access to the law in many African countries – free or not.  Mariya provided several reasons for the lack of access to legal information: indifference of commercial publishers; lack of funds and skills on the local levels; poor record keeping; and low level corruption. She argued that there can be no justice without access to legal information.  When the law is not available freely and easily, judges cannot determine precedent; rich litigants have an unfair advantage.  As support, Mariya shared visual images of legislative texts in which pages were literally cut out, edited by hand, and then reinserted.  The reality, Mariya said, is that lots of African law is in such condition and this format frustrates access to justice.

Mariya explained that the AfricanLII and the Laws.Africa projects are about building an open infrastructure of African legal information with opportunity for sophisticated searches. They have to be open to anyone and offer speed, efficiency, services, growth and development.

AfricanLII was founded in 2010 to promote the role of LIIs in Africa. It now offers a federated search of over 250k documents of African legal information. Additionally, in response to user demand, it has begun to create case indices, including the Human Rights Law Index and the Commercial Law Index. It also provides a current awareness newsletter that started out as a service for judges but has expanded to anyone interested in following legal developments in African law (subscribe at the bottom of this page). Most recently, AfricanLII launched a citator service, available in beta format. It is the first visual citator in the access to law movement, but what is more remarkable is that it creates a citator service for cases that were never published in law reports and, therefore, don’t have citations!  The AfricanLII database sees about 400,000 unique users per month, 90% of which are within Africa.  Users are primarily from the justice sector (lawyers, judges, paralegals, magistrates, law students, government workers, etc.) but there is an increase in “average joes” accessing the database.

When the AfricanLII project began, there was a conscious choice to focus on gathering and digitizing cases rather than legislation.  Cases have their own value, but outdated legislation has little value.  The creators of AfricanLII had concerns about the future credibility of their project if they uploaded outdated legislation.  Plus, the reality is that in most African countries, there is no free source of consolidated, up-to-date legislation.

The Laws.Africa project developed to address the lack of freely available access to African legislation. The creators of the Laws.Africa project surveyed other country’s attempts at making legislation current and freely accessible.  They decided that the UK’s legislation.gov.uk was the model “golden” standard outside of Africa because of its rich interface and up-to-date, authoritative corpus.  Within Africa, the “golden” standards were Kenya law, an authoritative source of Kenyan legislation, and OpenBylaws.org.za, which focuses on improving access to South African by-laws.

Laws.Africa is an open source, cloud platform for efficient cost-effective consolidation and publication of African legislation.  It aims to crowdsource an open digital archive of African gazettes and use technology (in particular, Akoma Ntoso, a non-proprietary, XML markup standard for legislative documents) to consolidate legislation. In terms of processes: once a gazette is uploaded onto the Laws.Africa platform, a group of contributors (law students and law library students) extract individual Acts and identify changes to the Act over time.  A small group of reviewers check the work of the contributors (there is a two-step review process). After review, the consolidated legislation becomes available in a variety of formats.

The Laws.Africa project has already acquired and uploaded over 13,000 national gazettes.  These gazettes are available in .pdf versions through a linked sister site called Gazettes.Africa.  But, it takes a village to make a complete collection!  Unfortunately, Mariya explained, the law of Africa is not in Africa.  Instead, many African gazettes, especially historical ones, are located in libraries outside of Africa.  To continue building the collection of African gazettes and legislation on the Laws.Africa portal, Mariya and her colleagues need law librarians and digitizers in the U.S. and U.K. to donate their African gazettes to the project.  Mariya believes that crowdsourcing these gazettes is the best way to reach the goal of a complete collection.

Mariya concluded her presentation with an appeal: Join our community! Donate your gazettes!  Spread the word about the AfricanLII and Laws.Africa projects!  She received a great round of applause.

For a video of Mariya’s FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant presentation, as given at Yale Law Library subsequent to the 2019 AALL Annual Meeting, follow this link.

AALL 2017 Recap: Schaffer Grant Recipient Presentation–I am the river, and the river is me

By Jessica Pierucci

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On Monday afternoon, July 17, 2017, the 2017 Schaffer Grant recipient, Rosemarie Rogers, delivered a fascinating presentation titled “Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au” or “I am the river and the river is me” about the personhood of the Whanganui River. Rosemarie traveled to the AALL 2017 conference in Austin, Texas all the way from New Zealand, where she is an Information Services Adviser at the law firm of Buddle Findlay.

Rosemarie started by taking us back to 1840, when over 500 Māori chiefs and the British Crown signed the Treaty of Waitangi. The English and Māori versions of the treaty differed significantly, which created substantial disagreement over the meaning of the treaty.

This disagreement ultimately led to the establishment of the Waitangi Tribunal in 1975 to settle treaty claims by the Māori arising from the actions of the British Crown. The tribunal initially had limited powers over claims arising before 1975, but its reach was extended in 1985 to historical claims that date back to 1840.

schaffer_riverslideThe dispute over the Whanganui River is one of those historical claims.

Before discussing the dispute over the river, Rosemarie shared two additional notable settlements coming out of the Waitangi Tribunal to provide context: the settlement of the Ngāi Tahu dispute and the settlement of the Te Urewera dispute.

First, the Ngāi Tahu dispute emerged from a complaint about land acquisition by the British Crown. In simple terms, the tribunal concluded that substantial compensation was required for the land and rights to significant sites were transferred as part of the settlement.

Second, the Te Urewera dispute arose over the status of a national park and is in many ways a precursor to the outcome of the Whanganui River dispute. The tribunal concluded that the, now former, national park, in Rosemarie’s words, “owns itself,” in that it is a legal entity. This vested the land in Te Urewera, granting personhood to Te Urewera.

These prior outcomes provide foundation for the tribunal’s conclusion that the Whanganui River is a legal person. This conclusion can be found in a settlement officially finalized through the passage of a bill by the New Zealand Parliament just a few months ago, in March 2017. Rosemarie shared the sad history of the Whanganui River explaining that it was used by the Māori for transport and food until the British Crown destroyed much of their ability to do so. Māori people brought this claim to right this wrong.

Now, as a result of the settlement, there is hope for the future of the river because, as a legal person and taonga (meaning ancestral treasure), the river has rights. The river will be appointed representatives to represent its interests.

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Rosemarie Rogers gives her Schaffer Grant Presentation at the 2017 Annual Conference of the American Association of Law Librarians in Austin, TX.

During the Q&A, Rosemarie shared that this recent settlement has been covered by many major news organizations (NPR, The Guardian, BBC, and the New York Times, to name a few). She also entertained a lively discussion with attendees about the potential implications of personhood for the river. According to Rosemarie, the Whanguanui River is the first river to be legally declared a person, so many of the decision’s implications are not yet clear. That will be the next chapter in this river’s story. Maybe the topic of a future Schaffer Grant lecture? We’ll just have to wait and see.

A Snapshot of Indonesian Law (and Indonesia) & the FCIL-SIS Throws a Party

By Julienne Grant

Rheny3Dr. Rheny Pulungan, recipient of the 2016 FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant, gave a fascinating presentation on July 18 entitled “The Legal Landscape in Indonesia:  Limitations and Possibilities.”  This was actually Dr. Pulungan’s first time in the United States, and she admitted to being a little overwhelmed.  She was headed to NYC after her Chicago visit.

Dr Pulungan began her presentation with a quiz for audience members, “Fun Facts About Indonesia,” which tested us on our basic knowledge of the country, such as the number of islands (around 18,000);  population (about 250 million); and official religions (Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Protestantism, Catholicism, and Confucianism). Needless to say, the attendees were a bit stumped and surprised at the answers. The speaker also showed a slide of Indonesia embedded on a map of the United States, and many of us were astonished to see what a large geographic area the country spans.

Indonesia’s legal system is complex, with civil law attributes resulting from the archipelago’s time under Dutch rule.  One region, Aceh, applies Shariah law. Since 1945, Dr. Pulungan explained, Indonesia has been creating its own laws. Starting in the 1970s, efforts began to create a national legal information center that would make Indonesian laws more accessible, and beginning in 2004, laws and court opinions have been regularly posted on Indonesian government websites.

The speaker next turned to Indonesia’s judicial system. At the trial level are 250 district courts, appellate level high courts number 30, and the Indonesian Supreme Court is a court of cassation. There are also specialized courts, including religious courts and military courts, as well as a constitutional court.  The Supreme Court has a website where its decisions are posted, although none are translated into English. Dr. Pulungan described the search functionality of the site as being mediocre and indicated that the Supreme Court does publish a small number of its decisions in print.  In 2012, as part of USAID’s Changes for Justice Project, an electronic case tracking system (SIPP) was established that was designed to promote judicial transparency.  According to the speaker, it is possible to search by case number or party name to locate information.  Dr. Pulungan also noted that court decisions at all levels must be uploaded within three days of rendering.

Decisions of the Constitutional Court (established in 2001) are translated into English and available on the Court’s website.  The Constitutional Court is not an appellate court and its authority is vested in the third amendment to Indonesia’s Constitution.  The Court’s database can be searched by multiple variables, including case number, case name, applicant names, and keywords.  The Constitutional Court’s role is “The Guardian of the Constitution.”

According to Dr. Pulungan, Indonesian legislation is relatively easy to find online, but locating official English translations can be difficult. There are several databases of note that contain Indonesian legislation: the State Secretariat Database (updated daily); Lexadin; some UN agency websites (such as UNODC); and Hukum.  Hukum is the only commercial database available for Indonesian law in both English and Indonesian.

The speaker next turned to secondary sources.  She recommended Cornell University’s “Southeast Asia Program” website and a quarterly publication called Inside Indonesia. She also mentioned the English-language law journal, Indonesia Law Review , which is open access, and the Australian Journal of Asian Law that is hosted on SSRN. The Jakarta Post covers legal news and developments, and Dr. Pulungan also noted the “Indonesia at Melbourne” blog and the website of the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society.

The speaker closed her talk by emphasizing that translating Indonesian legal materials into English is inherently difficult.  She provided an example of a phrase in Indonesian translated into English by Google Translate as “hiking education,” while a UNESCO document translated it as “educational streaming.” She advised attendees to search for more than one English translation. Dr. Pulungan has created a LibGuide on Indonesian law and told audience members that she was available via email for assistance.

A question from the audience was raised about religious courts, which she explained are unique and preside over family law matters. As an aside, the speaker mentioned that Indonesian couples who marry must be of the same faith; Dr. Pulungan’s husband is Australian, and he had to convert to Islam for a day in order for the marriage to be legal in Indonesia.  Another attendee asked whether any Indonesian court decisions are precedential. There is no precedent, she said, but Supreme Court decisions include practice notes that can influence lower courts.

ReceptionAfter Dr. Pulungan’s excellent talk,[1] audience members headed to the FCIL-SIS reception for foreign visitors.  The reception was well attended, and I enjoyed chatting with FCIL colleagues there. Keith Ann Stiverson, 2015-2016 AALL President, welcomed the guests and announced the numbers of foreign attendees:  27 from Canada, 17 from the UK, 2 from Australia, 1 from Hong Kong, 1 from Ireland, 2 from South Korea, and 1 from Switzerland.  Ms. Stiverson’s remarks were followed by a few words from IALL President Jeroen Vervliet (Peace Palace Library). Mr. Vervliet related his adventures in Hyde Park at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House. He also announced that the International Journal of Legal Information has a new publisher (Cambridge) and a new look. Mr. Vervliet presented a copy of the new issue to editor Mark Engsberg (Emory U) who had not yet seen it. Overall, it was a great party, although I admit I could have used a few more coconut shrimp.

 

[1] I will also add that Dr. Pulungan made a fashion statement with her dress constructed with fabric covered with images of books. Loved it.

 

It’s Time For Chicago!

Registration is now open for the 2016 AALL Annual Meeting and Conference in Chicago!  In addition to member-discounted pricing, deeply discounted registration rates are available for students and retirees. Nonmember conference registration packages also include a complimentary one-year AALL membership – by joining us in Chicago, you’ll be joining AALL as well!

The FCIL-SIS looks forward to welcoming all attendees to its 2016 Schaffer Grant for Foreign Law Librarians presentation, which will take place on Monday, July 18, from 4:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m., in Hyatt-Columbus GH. This year’s recipient, Ms. Rheny Pulungan, is Liaison Support Librarian at the University of Melbourne’s Law School Library. As Liaison Support Librarian, she supplies reference services, teaches legal research workshops, and completes collection development projects. Ms. Pulungan holds a Ph.D and Masters degree in International Law from the University of Melbourne, and a Master of Information Studies in Librarianship from the University of Canberra. Previously, Ms. Pulungan received her Bachelor of Laws from Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia, and served as Law Faculty Lecturer at Bengkulu University, where she specialized in international law. Ms. Pulungan’s experience in both Indonesian and Australian law, as well as law librarianship, will be reflected in her presentation, which will treat comparatively access to legal information in both countries.

In addition to the Schaffer Grant presentation on July 18, the AALL Conference will feature the following FCIL-related programming:

Sunday, July 17th

4:00 p.m. – Asian Legal Information in English: Availability, Accessibility, and Quality Control

Tuesday, July 19

8:30 a.m. – Roman Law, Roman Order, and Restatements

11:00 a.m. – Vanishing Online? Legal and Policy Implications for Libraries of the EU’s “Right to be Forgotten”

The FCIL-SIS is also working with the American Society of International Law to co-sponsor a pre-conference workshop to be held on Saturday, July 16 at 9:30 a.m. ($50 additional registration fee applies.)  The workshop, which is entitled Two Sides to the United Nations: Working with Public and Private International Law at the UN, is designed to equip all law librarians with foundational knowledge of the United Nations and CISG (both of which have recent significant changes to their online databases), and to increase their fluency with the major U.N. and CISG documents, information, research resources, and strategies.

If you are presenting on an FCIL-related topic in Chicago and would like your program to be featured on DipLawMatic Dialogues, or if you are interested in blogging about the conference programs listed above, please contact blog administrators Susan Gualtier (susan.gualtier@law.lsu.edu) or Loren Turner (lturner@law.ufl.edu). We look forward to seeing you in Chicago this summer!

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FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant for Foreign Law Librarians

By Kristina Alayan

The FCIL Schaffer Grant for Foreign Law Librarians provides financial assistance to ensure the presence and participation of a foreign librarian at the American Association of Law Libraries Annual Meeting. Foreign attendees enrich AALL events and programming by providing a global perspective that benefits all participants and the AALL membership more broadly.

This year’s AALL conference will return to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Philadelphia is famous for its vibrant art scene, diversity, and rich history (see Gabriela Femenia’s 2011 article in AALL Spectrum for more details here). The AALL annual meeting is easily the biggest law library conference in the world, and offers unparalleled opportunities for learning from colleagues, networking, and the opportunity to attend programs considering a wide range of topics relevant to law libraries and law librarianship. Anyone who may be interested in applying for the Grant is encouraged to review the relevant application information available online here.  Please note that the deadline for applications of November 30, 2014 is quickly approaching.

Selection for the Grant is based on the foreign law librarian’s ability to add to the knowledge of law, legal information, and law librarianship from a foreign perspective for AALL attendees. Preference may be given to an applicant from an under-represented country or region, to someone who demonstrates financial need, or to an applicant who has never attended an AALL Annual Meeting.  In order to ensure diversity, the Grant Committee avoids selecting recipients from the same country as recipients of the previous three years.

Many other law library associations provide similar opportunities (see e.g., IALL, BIALL, CALL).  The purpose of these grants, particularly those that encourage foreign law librarians to attend, is not only to provide a valuable professional development experience for the recipient, but also to enrich the conference events for local attendees.  Opportunities to share perspectives and ideas across cultures, languages, and legal systems are especially valuable in an increasingly globalized world.  Though our backgrounds and resources are often varied, the challenges we face are frequently the same and necessarily benefit from exchange and dialogue.

In order to ensure the greatest number of potential applicants are aware of this opportunity, please circulate this information to any of your colleagues abroad who may be eligible for the grant.

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FCIL-SIS Business Meeting Report, AALL 2014

By Loren Turner

The FCIL-SIS business meeting occurred at 7:45 a.m. on Sunday, July 13, 2014, at the AALL Annual Conference in San Antonio, TX.  The Chair of the FCIL-SIS, Donald (Don) Ford of the University of Iowa Law Library, and the Vice Chair/Chair-Elect, Teresa Miguel-Stearns of Yale Law Library, officiated the meeting.

Don Ford announced the 2014 election results naming Lucie Olejnikova as the upcoming Vice Chair/Chair-Elect, to succeed Teresa Miguel-Stearns when the latter becomes Chair at the close of the meeting.  After the election results were announced, a spokesperson from each FCIL interest group and committee delivered individual reports.  The highlights of this year’s reports included:

  • The FCIL Schaffer Grant Selection Committee welcomed Irene Kraft, the 2014 recipient of the FCIL Schaffer Grant, to the FCIL business meeting and the AALL conference.  Ms. Kraft is the Associate Library Officer of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Library.  Her presentation given during the AALL conference was titled “Envisioning the World’s International Criminal Law Library at the International Criminal Court” and focused on the future of small and specialized legal libraries.

The FCIL-SIS also reserved time to honor its members during the business meeting.  The list below identifies recipients of 2014 FCIL-SIS awards:

  • Spirit of the SIS Award Recipients: Julienne Grant, Ryan Harrington, Jim Hart, Carmen Valero.
  • Reynolds and Flores Publication Award Recipients: Wei Luo for The Amended and Annotated Criminal Code of the People’s Republic of China with Official Interpretations and Marci Hoffman and Mary Rumsey for the FCIL course book.
  • Dan Wade Outstanding Service Award Recipients: Lyo Louis Jacques and Alison Shea.
  • Longevity Award Recipients: David MacFadden and Carmen Valero.
  • FCIL-SIS Newest Member Award Recipient: Charles Bjork of Georgetown Law Library.

The meeting concluded with the passing of the gavel from Don Ford to Teresa Miguel-Stearns, FCIL-SIS Chair 2014-2015.

Latin American Law Interest Group Meeting Report

By Julienne Grant

The Latin American Law Interest Group met at 7 a.m. on Sunday, July 13th. Seven people attended, including invited guest Irene Kraft (2014 Schaffer Grant recipient.) A number of agenda items were discussed. First, Chair Julienne Grant announced that the Group’s new webpage is up and running. Next, the Group discussed the weekly e-update and whether e-mail was the best format for distribution. Several of the attendees wondered whether the updates could be moved to the webpage, or the information could be moved to a blog; these options will be explored. News sources that members are looking at include La Jornada (Mexico), El País (Spain), the Latin American Herald Tribune, and the Miami Herald.

Jonathan Pratter next unveiled the “Mexican Law and Legal Research” guide (available on the webpage) that was prepared in conjunction with the July 15th Mexican Law program. Eight members of the Group contributed pieces to the guide (Jonathan Pratter, Julienne Grant, Marisol Floren-Romero, Bianca Anderson, Teresa Miguel-Stearns, Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Jootaek Lee, and Sergio Stone.)

Next on the agenda was the topic of Latin American vendors of legal materials. Teresa had compiled a vendors list for SALALM (Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials) in 2010. She will update this and post it on the Group’s webpage. After a brief discussion of Latin American vendors, the attendees discussed an earlier proposal (originating with Joyce Manno Janto) to establish a formal exchange program between U.S. and Chilean law librarians. Feasibility issues were noted, including language barriers. Teresa will speak with Claudia Cuevas (Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional de Chile) at IALL (Buenos Aires) about the overall feasibility of the project, and Irene generously offered to help in any way possible.

The attendees next talked about other future projects, including the possibility of assembling another law/legal research guide, focusing on a different Latin American country. The Mexican guide was a tremendous amount of work, but attendees expressed interest in participating in a similar project. Country possibilities mentioned were Argentina, Colombia, and Cuba.

2014 Schaffer Grant recipient Irene Kraft (currently at the International Criminal Court) next provided an update on the Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional de Chile (BCN). Irene worked there from 2008-2013—first as a general reference librarian, and then did FCIL work because she is multilingual. Irene explained that every major piece of legislation proposed to the Chilean Congress has a comparative law component/justification, so comparative law research is important at the BCN. Irene indicated that the BCN is currently undergoing a major internal restructuring, which involves a number of retirements. Soledad Ferreiro retired as Director; she had pushed for the BCN’s legislative database, which was funded by the World Bank. Manuel Alfonso Pérez, a historian and long-time BCN employee, now heads the Library.

Irene also noted that Chile’s most recent elections resulted in a huge change in the composition of Parliament, and that recently-elected President Michelle Bachelet (also President from 2006-2010) is pushing for various fiscal, educational, and electoral reforms. One attendee asked Irene about the Rapa Nui and Mapuche communities in Chile. She indicated that controversies involving these indigenous groups still rarely make the news.

Many thanks to Irene for joining us!!

 

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