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The 50th anniversary Commonwealth Law Conference kicked off this morning (Monday 12 September) with a keynote speech by the Nigerian Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Chief Bayo Ojo.
Ojo delivered a speech written by Nigerian President Chief Olesegun Obasanjo, who was unable to attend the conference due to his presence at the United Nations this week.
In the speech, Ojo outlined the law reforms taking place in Nigeria, stressing the emphasis on access to justice and human rights. He said that the country was consulting on whether to retain the death penalty, and was also examining ways of increasing the profile of women and other disempowered groups within the legal system.
Ojo called upon Commonwealth lawyers to apply "strong legal tools" to fight terrorism and human rights abuses, saying: "Needless to say that lawyers must continue to lead the way in ensuring that these tools are applied effectively but with due regard for our shared values of humanity."
He added: "I challenge the lawyers, especially those in developing societies, to be more proactive in using the law as an instrument for responding to the needs of the society … I urge you all to make this conference a launching pad for the legal profession to help create a brighter future for all peoples in the Commonwealth and beyond."
The conference continues until Thursday (15 September) with discussions on all areas of the law, including corporate law and training.