Annie Zinenani Gumulira
LLM in Human Rights in Criminal Justice, University of Limerick
Annie worked as the Assistant Registrar of the High Court (Commercial Division) in Lilongwe, Malawi before receiving her fellowship.
Before coming to Ireland, I was working as the Assistant Registrar of the High Court (Commercial Division) in Lilongwe, Malawi. This is an administrative and judicial position. It was administrative in a sense that I was the controlling officer of the institution, managing 25 junior staff, looking after the welfare of the two judges stationed at the division, while ensuring the smooth running of all court services. It was judicial in a sense that I handled the registration of disputes, conducted hearings, and gave rulings in matters which, as per the civil procedure rules, fall within the authority of the Assistant Registrar.
I chose to study the LLM in Human Rights in Criminal Justice for two reasons. The first is my belief that a criminal justice system sensitive to the notion of human rights is essential to the development of Malawi as a country. The second is my aspiration to become a judge in the criminal division of the High Court; this course will enable me to understand concepts that underline criminal justice, thus positioning me to speak from a point of authority on improving our criminal justice system.
I have benefited a lot from this scholarship in terms of the social and academic exposure I have had so far. Being able to see how things function in this part of the world has been so enlightening and has changed my whole outlook and approach to life. The ability to reason from an innovative perspective in tackling challenging issues is a skill I cannot wait to use when I return to Malawi.
I have gained many skills and insights while studying this course. My analytical skills have improved. My ability to communicate ideas with clear constructive thoughts has tremendously improved, not to mention that my research and academic writing skills are much better than before.
Adjusting to life in Ireland has been very confusing and yet interesting. Being my first time to travel to Europe, I found everything, from the transportation system to the living conditions, extremely sophisticated, luxurious, and complex. I found that paying particular attention to details and being organised helps one to cope fast. After I return home, the thing that I will miss a lot about Ireland is the comfortable convenient public transportation system.
There are a lot of striking differences between Malawi and Ireland, in terms of development, I need not say more. But that aside, I will say the weather is a real point of difference. I find it interesting that the coldest winters in Malawi are considered warm days in Ireland.
In relation to my thesis, I have developed an interest in theories underlining sentencing and the exercise of judicial discretion. I intend to write on the topic Judicial Discretion and Sentencing in the Criminal Justice System: A comparative analysis of Malawi and Ireland.
My future hopes in the development of Malawi are focused on building a stronger criminal justice system. Stronger in the sense of factual independence and the ability to remain alive to human rights concepts and command public confidence. My hopes for my personal development remain to become a Judge and make significant contributions to the Malawian legal system.
I would recommend others to the Ireland Fellows Programme. This fellowship is more than mere financial support towards my academic goals. My professional reputation will benefit a lot, given the calibre of universities that are under the fellowship. In my case, I will graduate with a Master’s Degree from the University of Limerick which is quite prestigious. Exposure to the rich Irish culture and the well-designed systems used in everyday life is another thing to cherish under the fellowship.
My advice for candidates who wish to apply for the Ireland Fellows Programme is that before embarking on the application process, they must find something they are passionate about within their career and/or profession, and research into how that can be improved to benefit their organisation or the field in general. This will enable them to give a clear account of their career outline in the application process, which must be approached soberlyWhen I go back home, I will use the knowledge and skills gathered from my experience and exposure in Ireland to find solutions to the challenges that exist within our criminal justice system.