Eswatini’s highest court has strongly criticised that country’s prosecution service for how long it took to bring a murder case to trial. Writing a review judgment in that case, the court called the 13 years it took to begin the trial ‘a form of torture’ for the accused in the matter, adding that the delays were unconstitutional. A full bench of the supreme court confirmed the revised 23-year sentence imposed on appeal, adding that if the question of the prosecution’s delays had been raised during the hearing of the review, it could have ‘seriously considered’ reducing the sentence by at least five years.
Members of Nigeria’s apex court have come out strongly against the leader of the country’s judiciary, Tanko Muhammad. In the first letter of its kind, they have written to him, as Chief Justice of Nigeria to complain about a variety of issues related to conditions at court as well as conditions under which the judges operate. They moan about a memo informing them that electricity will operate at court only between 8 and 4 due to a diesel shortage, about amended court rules that have not been finalised, and about not being able to take ‘accompanying persons, due to age’ when they travel for training. The CJN in turn has responded with a statement that, by implication, criticises the judges for their initial letter, saying it amounted to ‘dancing naked in the market square’. In the letter he makes assurances, however, that everyone at court is getting on with their work and doing their normal duty.
For many reasons, South Africa is not an easy place to seek asylum, and new research by human rights lawyer Jacob van Garderen highlights some of the difficulties faced by asylum seekers as well as other migrants. Among the worst issues he found were ongoing problems over access to safe housing, difficulties around documentation because of a government system that doesn’t appear to be working – and the ever present threat of xenophobia.
The alarming case of two Afghan judges, refused entry into the UK after the Taliban took over Afghanistan, is instructive. The two face the very real possibility that they will be found and executed by the Taliban, and yet the UK government has flatly refused to allow them in. Among other things, this illustrates how vulnerable judges, as a group, sometimes are, persecuted precisely for the work that they do as judges. When they seek asylum, it is difficult to say that they are simply ‘making things up’, an accusation often levelled at other would-be refugees. At the same time, however, the case shows how incredibly difficult it must be for ordinary people to gain legal entry into a country as asylum-seekers, if even judges, clearly committed to promoting the rule of law, are turned down.
This year, World Refugee Day focuses particularly on the right of displaced people to be safe. But what does that mean for children? Laura Buffoni, senior community-based protection officer of the UNHCR’s regional bureau for Southern Africa, sat down for an interview with Justice in Africa to share some ideas and information with readers, starting with this statistic: globally, as well as in this region, women and children make up some 80% of the displaced population.