International Public Law Unit takes Strathmore Law students to Germany and Netherlands
Excitement, anticipation, curiosity, are some of the feelings shared across by the second group of Strathmore Law School third year students and law school faculty, who took part in the annual Europe excursion by the school to the land of Law as summed up by some of the students. The students were privileged to visit different cities in Germany and Netherlands gaining firsthand experience coupled with further knowledge on important courts and topics in Law. The students one week visit from 1st to 8th November, 2015 was nothing short of informative, enlightening and a fun experience for the team.
To start of the long awaited trip, students visited the famous Court 600 in Nuremberg where the First World War II criminals were tried. The court also currently houses the appellate house, regional court, local court and the public prosecutors office. After a special lecture on the history of the court, students were taken on a tour of the museum where they learnt about the different Nazi war crime events that took place.
In another session still on the Nazi crimes, students visited the Documentation Centre Museum Nuremberg, where details of the event crimes were told not only in pictures but also through videos. Faculty Lecturer Jerusha was excited about this particular visit as it explored interesting facts students have learnt and are set to learn in the new International Law unit that will begin soon. This is so exciting because my students are learning such important information for their unit. It is also much more exciting because now we have firsthand experience on some of the things we teach and intend on teaching international law students in future with the unit will be offered.
After the thorough session on the war crimes, students then joined scholars from the University of Cologne Law faculty in the city of Cologne for an engagement session on debated issues concerning ICC and Africa. Students discussed; the criminal chambers of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights; Immunities, Selective Prosecution and Complementarity; Perceptions of the Crimes in Kenya; and the Proceedings before the ICC.
The session was finalized with a Q&A session by Prof. Claus Kreß – Director Institute of International Peace and Security Law Cologne University. The University of Cologne is the sixth oldest university in central Europe and one of the largest universities in Germany. This visit summed up the activities in Germany.
Students then proceeded to The Hague Netherlands, home to the ICC courts where leaders from Kenya have been tried with regards to post election violence in Kenya. Students had the opportunity to see the ICC courts before proceeding to their first appointment at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons famously known as OPCW. Here students got to learn about chemical weapons commonly used and what the office has done and continues to do to cub this menace in the society. It was important to note that OPCW won a noble peace prize on the work carried out by their office.
The visit to the UN ICTY International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was next and was filled with insightful information on different cases tried at the office. Students were allowed to sit in on a case 7 years old, before attending the lecture on the different cases. ICTY is responsible for serious violations of International Humanitarian Law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia. Salma a third year student who had the opportunity to undertake a one week internship program at ICTY as part of her reward from one of the competitions held at SLS, was excited about the experience that took her knowledge to a notch higher. My internship at this office was incredible, the staff members were helpful, the work load was intense but also fulfilling, and I got to practice my Dutch a bit more. Such an experience is legendary, I am truly grateful for the opportunity. I cannot wait to do a longer attachment and possibly work here in future, she said.
The students journey continued the following day with a visit to the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN), International Court of Justice (ICJ) where Lady Justice Julia Sebutinde took questions on cases held at the famous international court. Justice Sebutinde also advised students on her experience as a judge and how she balances work and family, especially considering her role in the court office, being a woman in that position, and taking care of her family through it all. To culminate the insightful session, students were treated to a tour of the courts where they learnt more on the different court rooms, sessions and even the décor of place.
The enthusiastic students then attended a lecture on Human Rights Law at the University of Leiden where Prof. Drs. MLP Titia Loenen taught them. Although the Human Rights unit is set to be studied in the new semester for the students, the session was informative and the question and answer session pleasantly surprised the professor as the questions were intense and very good, as she described them. The University of Leiden situated at the city of Leiden Netherlands is also one of the oldest universities in Netherlands, a factor that amused students considering the top notch facilities at the school. To conclude the insightful visit, students paid a courtesy call to the Deputy Mayors office where they were warmly received by the Deputy Mayor and got to share insights with him on his office. The mayor-student networking saw to it that some students were invited to send their resumes to the office for possible internship opportunities.
A visit to Europe would not be complete without a tour of the famous Amsterdam city, and as a result, students were treated to a special tour of the touristic city. The team experienced a canal ride where they got to learn a bit on Amsterdams buildings, culture and environment in general.
This trip was well needed and I am grateful to SLS for giving as an opportunity to undertake it. Some of us would have never had an opportunity to visit these places on our own. The sites chosen for us to visit were incredible and helpful for us to understand the International Public Law unit better, said Olive another third year law student.