Here we post news and developments from within, and affecting, Judiciaries in Africa
Marvin Baryaruha is a familiar figure to Ugandan readers. Everyone else might benefit from a brief introduction: formerly legal officer of the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra), Baryaruha was fingered by the Court of Appeal’s Justice Catherine Bamugemereire when she reported on her 2015/16 commission of inquiry into the country’s national roads authority.
Justice Joseph Wowo, originally of Nigeria, was jailed on corruption charges in January 2014. His trial was seen by many as involving trumped-up charges and he has now won a kind of vindication via the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).
In a special statement, the Ecowas court has announced that it has ordered Gambia to pay $200 000 in “nominal damages” to Justice Wowo. Unfortunately, however, no judgment has been released that explains the court's decision.
Recusal has become a political football in a number of African jurisdictions during the past months, but Namibia has produced a completely new scenario: magistrates who refuse to continue a case because of a workplace grievance, and recuse themselves in protest.
Just one sentence into the judgment, and you know this is a legal scandal of significant proportions: Judges Thembekile Malusi and Mbulelo Jolwana said the “misconduct which culminated in this review, to the best of our knowledge, is unprecedented in the annals of the judiciary in this country. We hope it will never be repeated by any judicial officer.”
Read the Rules on TanzLII
Court rules are often pretty boring to outsiders. Usually they are only of interest to lawyers who must obey them to the letter so they don’t get into trouble and make a mistake about filing deadlines, for example.
International and local outrage has followed the shock suspension of Nigeria’s chief justice, Walter Onnoghen, by the country’s president, Muhammadu Buhari on January 25, 2019.
Lawyers across Nigeria held a two-day protest against what they termed the “illegal suspension” of the CJ, boycotting the courts for the duration of the demonstration. The protest was called for by the Nigerian Bar Association following a national emergency meeting called to consider the suspension, and it was widely observed.
A string of controversial murder trials is about to get under way in Lesotho, under several foreign judges chosen to ensure that the cases are seen as unbiased.
Judge Charles Hungwe from Zimbabwe was the first of the judges to arrive in Lesotho late January. He has responsibility for drawing up the roll of cases for each of the foreign judges to hear. The cases are particularly sensitive because they involve senior military and political figures, either as victims or as assassins – or both.
THE decision, delivered on Friday morning by the highest court in Lesotho, was entirely predictable given the tone of questioning and discussion in court during the hearing earlier in the week.
Lesotho’s Court of Appeal has not been operating for some time as the judicial crisis surrounding the head of that court has played out, but five acting judges, headed by former Zambian judge, Philip Musonda, were appointed to hear this matter.
WOMEN in African’s top judicial positions will have been watching the case of their colleague, the Chief Justice of Seychelles, Mathilda Twomey, with more than keen interest. It is a remarkable fact that, of the southern and east African countries whose decisions we have been writing about recently, women hold top office in just a tiny number of countries. And yet most of these already few women are under scrutiny, facing threat of impeachment or prosecution.
IN the midst of the judicial crisis in Lesotho, that country’s new acting chief justice has moved swiftly to stamp her authority on the courts and on the processes that had been put in place to prevent the suspension of the beleaguered chief justice.
On Sunday afternoon, 16 September, the new ACJ, Judge Maseforo Mahase, granted an ex parte order against Lesotho’s Chief Justice, Judge Nthomeng Majara stipulating that the latter was barred from the precincts of the palace of justice. She also barred Judge Majara from any activities associated with the role of the CJ.