Transgender victim of police unlawful arrest and assault awarded damages        Thursday, November 18, 2021 - 22:11

Police in Namibia have yet again come in for some tough criticisms by the courts of that country. This time because of the unwarranted harassment, unlawful arrest, assault and abuse meted out against a transgender woman who was picked up and forced into a police van, for no good reason. A video that captured the continuation of the abuse and assault once the police van arrived at the station was shown to the court, and the judge quoted with approval comments in another case that ‘despicable conduct’ should not be associated with a professional police service in a constitutional state.

Judge concerned about 'overcriminalisation' of teenage sex        Wednesday, November 17, 2021 - 10:54

Many teenagers are sexually active but, in its efforts to protect children and vulnerable young people, the law is not always able to act appropriately in response. A significant new decision from the high court in Malawi raises the issue squarely and, in a section headed, ‘Overcriminalisation of factually consensual sexual intercourse’ suggests that South Africa, among others, might have found a suitable approach for the law to take. The judgment was delivered after the court reviewed the decision of a magistrate in a case where a teenage boy was charged with defilement for having had sex with a teenage girl a couple of years younger than he was. The magistrate acquitted the young man, but wrote a decision in a way that sensationalised the young woman’s sexual history and in so doing trivialised the problem faced by the courts, parents – and teenagers themselves. In her review of that decision, Judge Vikochi Chima suggested that this was not the style for judicial officers to adopt, but approved the magistrate’s finding that the young man should be acquitted.  

Namibian government to appeal in gay fathers' surrogacy case        Thursday, November 11, 2021 - 21:39

An important Namibian high court decision, seen as progressive and widely welcomed in the gay and lesbian community, is to be challenged in that country’s highest court. The high court had ordered the government to register a child, born of a surrogacy arrangement in South Africa, as a Namibian citizen by descent. Complicating the decision in Namibia, where gay and lesbian rights are still contested terrain, is that the father, a Namibian, who brought the application for his child to be given Namibian citizenship by descent, is married to another man, in terms of South Africa law. The notice of appeal discloses that the government wants to challenge the outcome on a number of grounds including references by the high court to anti-gay discrimination in Namibia. But the supreme court might decide to deal with the matter on grounds related to the surrogacy agreement and its implications for Namibian citizenship law, rather than getting to the question of gay discrimination.

Court declares husband, charged with murdering his wife, 'unworthy' to bury her        Thursday, November 11, 2021 - 21:29

A high court judge in Lesotho has found a husband ‘unworthy’ to bury his wife, because the evidence indicated that he had ‘brutalised her in what was plainly a ‘callous act of domestic violence’. Her birth family had asked that they be allowed to bury her instead, a move strongly opposed by the husband, charged with her murder and out on bail. He claimed that, as the heir, he had the right to bury her. Finding the husband responsible for the woman’s death, Judge Moroke Mokhesi said such behaviour offended public policy the world over. The abuse and brutalising of women was frowned on and it would ‘offend a sense of what is right’ to allow him to bury her merely because he was the heir.

Judges ask: are ‘fraudulent leakages’ responsible for all those missing court records?        Thursday, November 11, 2021 - 15:58

Three Ugandan judges have been wrestling with an increasingly common problem in the region: appeals that cannot be heard because vital court documents have gone missing. In this latest case the appeal judges said that as with other such cases it was not possible to know whether the documents had disappeared by way of ‘fraudulent leakages’, but that the appeal rights of the accused had been infringed as they had been waiting six years for the registrar to supply the record, without success. The only light at the end of the tunnel was the hope that with digitalisation of Ugandan court records, the ‘spate’ of lost court records would come to an end, said the judges. They also urged the Principal Judge to ensure that leaks were ‘sealed’.