The African Law Service brings diverse commentary on legal developments from across our African continent.
Criminal law can be confusing because conduct can be both reasonable and unreasonable, right and wrong, and things can exist or not, all at the same time. This might appear to be an indictment of criminal law as inherently contradictory, but it is not. It is an attempt to illuminate how all these things can be true at the same time - without contradiction.
As Africa and many other parts of the world threaten to explode with anger over the rape of children and women, femicide and other forms of gender-based violence, the highest court of Seychelles has scored an important addition to its ranks. This judge brings a particular knowledge of and sensitivity to the growing problem of violence against women from her academic work as well as her experience on the highest court of her home country.
This is a case with enormous implications for Eswatini women: three judges have spelled out the implications of the constitutional guarantee to equal treatment before the law. And they have definitively ruled that the common law doctrine of marital power discriminates against married women.
Among others, the now discredited marital regime offended the right of married women to dignity and to equality.
The eight applicants wanted the court to agree that they could represent the minority Hai||om people. That established, they wanted to claim the entire world-famous Etosha National Park – all 23,150 sq kms of it – together with other significant tracts of land. They said this was their ancestral land, and they were being prevented from using it. Failing return of the land, they wanted compensation in land or money.
Judges from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region met last week outside Cape Town for specialised judicial training in a growing field of law. The course, offered by the Judicial Institute for Africa (Jifa), was an introduction to environmental law, a subject many of the judges have not often needed to deal with before.
Magistrates in Lesotho are clearly unhappy. This year they have already tried repeated strikes to highlight their concerns but without success - promises made to them have come to nothing.
Then, this week, representatives of the magistracy from across Lesotho met in Maseru and took a number of decisions likely to impact on the functioning of the courts and the legal system throughout the country.