Soft skills in judicial practice

Participants in the workshop held on 3 November 2023 in Dakar.
Participants in the workshop held on 3 November 2023 in Dakar.

The IRZ and the Judicial College of Senegal (Centre de Formation judiciaire, CFJ), organised a seminar on “soft skills” in the professional practice of judges on 2-3 November 2023. The two-day event took place on the premises of the Judicial College and offered a platform for some lively exchanges between the Senegalese and German attendees.

Soft skills: ethics, integrity, communication and much more

The two days of the seminar focused on soft skills in judicial practice, including communication and analytical skills, empathy, impartiality, teamwork and time management. Participants also discussed the specific issues around dealing with vulnerable groups. El Hadji Babacar Diop, a spokesperson for the Senegalese Ministry of Justice, explained the legal framework within which judges in Senegal operate. Mademba Gueye, General Director of the CFJ, also presented the topic “Integrity in the judicial profession”, which was followed up by Wolfgang Ehm, Vice President of the Regional Court in Halle (Saale) from the German contingent, using the “Bangalore principles of judicial ethics”. Magatte Diop, President of the Civil Court of First Instance in Senegal, described the judicial procedures, and how judgements are drafted. Moustapha Ka, Secretary General and trainer at the CFJ, spoke about the implementation of soft skills in judicial training in Senegal.

A political judiciary?

The second German expert was Yvonne Bach, Presiding Judge at the Administrative Court in Düsseldorf, who spoke, among others, about communication with external actors and representatives of the press. She explained the overlaps between judicial independence and political and religious ideology in Germany. It emerged from the discussion that what would be controversial in Germany would be unthinkable in Senegal.

The direct exchanges in French between the German and Senegalese experts sparked some interesting discussions. Yvonne Bach's lecture on the topic of “empathy” was followed by a longer discussion between the participants on the importance and increasing focus on the ability of judges to express empathy even during their training phase.

The seminar paved the way for further exchanges, which the IRZ and its partner institutions will pursue in 2024.