Latest Articles

State of emergency can't be used to resurrect legislative corpses - Lesotho's high court

Lesotho’s political leaders have been given a firm message by that country’s high court: don’t try to use state of emergency powers in a sleight of hand to pass legislation that wasn’t finalised during Parliament’s normal sessions.

Non-punishment principle for trafficking victims: here’s how you can help a new research project

Victims of trafficking are sometimes brought to court themselves, charged with offences they are thought to have committed, even though this may have been in the course of being trafficked. Will you help with research into this problem?

Kenya’s supreme court election petition rules set aside by high court

Kenya’s supreme court has been given a lesson on observing the separation of powers and not ‘usurping’ the legislative power of parliament. Strangely enough, this lesson has come from the high court which had been asked to consider the constitutional validity of new rules promulgated by the supreme court. The disputed rules effectively prevented litigants, advocates and advocates’ agents from commenting on the merits, or otherwise, of a presidential election challenge from the time the hearing of the matter begins until the decision is given. Though the Chief Justice strongly defended the rules, the high court found they did not pass constitutional muster and has set them aside.

Ugandan lawyer, serving time for contempt, loses bid for bail release

A Ugandan lawyer with a reputation for strongly criticising judges and demanding the recusal of those presiding in cases where he is involved, has lost his bid to be freed from prison pending an appeal. The lawyer, Male Mabirizi (pictured), was sentenced to an 18-month jail term for contempt of court by a high court judge whom he repeatedly slandered and pilloried. Though he sought release from prison pending an appeal, he had not yet filed any appeal and so the appeal court judges turned him down.

Courses on climate change law, environmental law, open judges’ eyes to the coming storm

New awareness of climate change and litigation associated with it, has dramatically changed the perception of over 20 judges who attended a training course on environmental law and climate change law under the auspices of Jifa last month. Almost all of them started out unsure of what climate change law actually is, and doubting whether they would ever be involved in litigation concerning climate change. But after a week’s training with a University of Cape Town expert, including two days intensively focused on climate change, they now have a very different perspective. As the judges put it, ‘Our eyes have been opened; now we have a massive responsibility to implement what we have learnt.’

Court ruling poses Lesotho elections dilemma

Lesotho’s October 7 election date suddenly appears at risk. The date was announced by the country’s Independent Electoral Commission in July, but a new decision of the constitutional court has found that the delimitation of 20 constituencies doesn’t pass constitutional muster, because the range in voter numbers is larger or smaller than the 10% variation constitutionally prescribed. The decision, delivered on August 8, puts the IEC under enormous pressure and it might not be possible to redraw constituencies in time for the elections. This is particularly so since it will not be a question of just adjusting the 20 voter boundaries: tinkering with any boundary will necessarily also affect even those constituencies that are now compliant.

Malawi court finds against judge’s claim for appeal court seat

A judge in Malawi has found himself in the unusual position of having to consider a colleague’s complaint, made before him in litigation, that the other judge had been unfairly passed over for appointment to a higher court.

Last minute Kenyan court order overturns ban on manual voters’ register for polls

Kenya’s high court stepped in, just days before that country’s presidential polls of 9 August, to overturn a decision of Kenya’s Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission, the body that runs elections. The commission had decided to bar the use of printed registers of voters as a backup to the electronic system by which the elections will be run. That decision was contained in a letter that the commission had written to one of the contending parties. The judge found that the decision violated the constitution because some voters could be refused the right to vote if they weren’t identified due to a malfunction of the technology, and declared that the decision, contained in the letter, was null and void.

No proof of grade 12 school certificate, so re-election of Zambian former minister declared invalid

When President Edgar Lungu lost the elections in Zambia in August 2021, one of the members of his party who was re-elected as an MP was Joseph Malanji, a former foreign minister. But that re-election was disputed by a rival for his seat who claimed Malanji did not meet the criteria because he did not have a grade 12 certificate, a requirement for election. The high court decided that the election was not valid. Malanji then appealed and the constitutional court of Zambia has now given its decision on the matter.

Judges refused appointment suffer ‘unlawful discrimination’ says Kenyan high court

The blunt refusal of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta to appoint or promote six judges of the more than 40 recommended during 2019 by the Judicial Service Commission, has unleashed a storm of ligitation, with human rights and constitutional groups determined that the law should intervene to give effect to the JSC decision. The latest in that litigation is a petition decided last week by three judges of the high court, after it was brought by a Kenyan doctor, Benjamin Magare. The judges held that certain of Magare’s petitions couldn’t be decided at this stage as they had already been determined by another bench or were up for appeal. It was, however, appropriate to resolve his petition on the question of whether the six nominees were treated differently from the rest of the 40, in a way that amounted to unlawful discrimination. They were indeed unlawfully discriminated against, said the judges, and moreover the six had a legitimate expectation that they would have been appointed, along with the rest of those recommended by the JSC.