latest content

Crucial role for Africa's courts in preventing electoral violence

As judicial interest grows in the role that judges and courts should play relative to elections, the president of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights has addressed a conference of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Kenya on the issue. Among other questions, Justice Imani Aboud discussed the contribution that courts can make, through their work as arbiters of the law, that would help assure voters, and politicians, that elections are fair, and thus help reduce the likelihood of violence related to polls. 

Read speech

The president of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Imani Aboud, says that courts in Africa are asserting themselves, even ‘venturing into the political space’ in an effort to ensure that electoral disputes are settled quickly and fairly.

Health activist loses court battle for complete tobacco ban in Kenya

A spirited fight for tobacco to be completely banned on tobacco in Kenya has gone up in smoke: the constitutional and human rights division of the high court has refused a petition brought to overturn the existing laws controlling the production and sale of tobacco in Kenya. Instead, the unsuccessful litigant wanted tobacco to be outlawed completely to safeguard the health of that country’s people.

Read judgment

Convinced that tobacco smoking poses a far greater health hazard than the government realised, Kenyan Ibrahim Mahmoud Ibrahim brought a high court application in 2019, asking for tobacco, in all its forms, to be completely outlawed.

Judge from Botswana fights off transfer, takes CJ to court

A most extraordinary story emerged this week of an attempt by the Chief Justice of Botswana, Terrence Rannowane, to transfer a senior judge from the high court in Gaborone to Francistown, and of the judge’s response. The CJ is alleged to have justified the sudden transfer on the basis that a judge in Francistown, recently appointed to head the country’s independent electoral commission, needed to be based in Gaborone. The judge sought to be moved, Gabriel Komboni, now plans a judicial review of the CJ’s transfer decision.

Uganda's appeal court in new approach to division of marital property on divorce

Uganda’s Court of Appeal has handed down a decision that could prove a turning point on the question of how marital property should be divided on divorce. The judges seem to have rejected what some have seen as a growing tendency in divorce matters, namely granting women half share of a property. Instead, these judges say equality doesn’t automatically mean equity, and that a claim for half of the property must be backed by facts if it is to succeed.

Read judgment

This new decision, by three judges of Uganda’s Court of Appeal, seems to mark a third phase in efforts to ensure that women are treated equally in society and before the law in that country, particularly at divorce.

Crucial Lesotho court decision nullifies disputed contract that could cripple the mountain kingdom

A new decision by Lesotho’s high court could prove key in a developing crisis over a disputed contract, that could bring the mountain kingdom to its knees. A full bench has found that the contract, between Lesotho and Frazer Solar, a German company that provides alternative energy systems and that would have involved Lesotho in finding funding of €100m, was null and void. Lesotho has repudiated the contract, and as a result, Frazer Solar is claiming compensation that could cripple Lesotho.

Colonial era police powers to effect indiscriminate mass arrests in Malawi declared unconstitutional

Police in Malawi, like those in other post-colonial African countries, have long enjoyed wide powers to round up, hold and threaten anyone with prosecution under the guise of crime prevention. Typically, these powers are exercised by way of mass arrests, locally known as ‘sweeping exercises’, targeting people the police regard as vagrants or who seem out of place. Though first enacted under colonial rule, these powers have remained on the statute books even after independence.

Read judgment

In a newly-delivered decision, Judge Zione Ntaba has held that the law giving Malawian police power to conduct indiscriminate raids on the public – known locally as ‘sweeping exercises’ – is unconstitutional.

Kenya’s independent electoral commission boss faces possible jail over contempt of court

The head of Kenya’s independent electoral and boundaries commission has been found in contempt of court and will be staring some serious punishment in the face when he appears in court for sentencing. An office technology company brought an application against commission CEO, Marjan Hussein Marjan, asking that he be fined and/or jailed for six months for having ‘deliberately disobeyed’ earlier court orders and a 2016 judgment to pay the company. The judge who heard the company’s application had some tough words for Marjan about heeding court orders.

Read judgment

At stake in this application was Ksh 7,243,568 still owed by Kenya’s independent electoral and boundaries commission. This after the commission had run up a total debt to Office Technologies Ltd of Ksh 200,440,000 and the court gave summary judgment for this amount plus interest as from March 2013. Although some of the amount has been paid, the commission still owes a substantial sum and has been dragging its feet about payment.

Death penalty for convicted HIV rapists unconstitutional – Lesotho court

A decision by the constitutional division of Lesotho’s high court has found controversial provisions in that country’s sexual offences law, unconstitutional. In particular, the court held that stipulating the death penalty for a convicted rapist, held to have known he was HIV positive at the time of the crime, infringed the constitutional right to freedom from discrimination and to a right to equality before the law.

Read judgment

 

Just over 20 years ago, Lesotho’s then Minister of Justice, Law and Constitutional Affairs, Refiloe Masemene, introduced a new bill on sexual offences to parliament. Among other proposals, accepted by MPs and brought into law, was this: that the penalty for a convicted rapist, aware at the time of the crime that he was HIV Positive, was the death sentence.

Strengthening civil registration legislation for the prevention of statelessness

States must include safeguards to prevent statelessness in their civil registration laws and align registration procedures with their citizenship laws. Here, birth registration specialist Anette Bayer Forsingdal takes a brief look at the status of civil registration laws in Southern Africa and outlines some regional challenges in ensuring universal birth registration.  

Universal birth registration is critical for preventing statelessness. A stateless person is defined as someone who is not considered a citizen by any State under the operation of its law and can have dire personal consequences. Birth certificates are essential for establishing citizenship as they provide proof of the foundational facts needed to confirm or acquire citizenship under a state’s constitution or citizenship legislation.

Crucial high court statelessness case tests route out of legal limbo

A young man, stateless and unable to access even the basic rights that go with citizenship, has brought what could be a precedent-setting case in the high court of South Africa. The young man, who knows nothing of his father, and whose mother died when he was very young, wants the court to order that he be granted citizenship of SA, either by birth or through naturalisation.

Read founding papers

Read heads of argument

 

The tragedy of statelessness lies deep in the heart of a major new case, argued before the high court in Pretoria, South Africa.

Pages

x123xx