Centre for Human Rights launches African court jurisprudence database built on Uwazi!

We’re happy to announce that the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria has launched an online database of jurisprudence and commentary for the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights!

Access the Centre for Human Rights’ AfCHPR database >>

This database is built on Uwazi – our web-based, open-source platform for organising, analysing and publishing document collections.

To give you some background on the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR), it is the regional human rights court of the African Union. It was established through a protocol adopted in 1998, which entered into force in 2004, and its first judges were elected in 2006. The official role of the court concerns the interpretation and application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, as well as other international human rights instruments.

The new jurisprudence database hosts a collection of selected case law decided by the Court since its establishment. In addition to this, the website provides informative commentary documents, explaining the court’s past coverage of specific issues.

Why did the Centre for Human Rights choose Uwazi?

First and foremost, it is important to the Centre for Human Rights that human rights practitioners are able to find the information they are looking for. With Uwazi, users can easily explore the AfCHPR database using filters. Users are able to select from one or more of three main areas:

  1. contentious cases (for which the court decides on cases and disputes submitted to it),
  2. advisory opinions (for which the court provides its formal opinion on a specific legal matter) and
  3. commentary documents (which are written by law students from the Centre for Human Rights).

Users can then filter within these categories, for example by specifying the topic of a commentary, or the country to which case documents relate.

It is possible to further filter the collection of documents by procedure, substance and reparations.

Screenshot of the CHR Uwazi instance library page with main filters on the right sidebar.

Using the Uwazi reference feature, the commentary documents include direct links to the paragraphs of the decisions that they cite. This allows users to read the original references alongside the commentaries, as seen below, without needing to open multiple documents or windows:

This screenshot of the AfCHPR database demonstrates how users can see documents and/or text being referenced (in the right sidebar) within the document on the left.

In addition to Uwazi’s dynamic filter and reference features, it was also important to the Centre for Human Rights that their users were able to:

  • use a comprehensive search function among the available decisions, opinions and commentaries. The search function provides links to each result for a given term, which are also highlighted in the body text of the document for reference.
  • easily view PDF documents within their browser, without having to first download and then open the files.

More information about this document collection and Uwazi

The Centre for Human Rights’ AfCHPR collection currently amounts to a total of over 150 documents. At the time of this blog post, the database is up-to-date to May 2017 and will be regularly updated.  Support for the development of this database has been generously provided by GIZ, along with technical support from HURIDOCS and the Library of the University of Pretoria. The new platform is accessible at: https://afchpr-commentary.uwazi.io

This month, we officially launched Uwazi! Please join the Uwazi mailing list to get regular updates on development, events and learning opportunities. And let us know if you want to take Uwazi for a test drive!

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