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Constitution 'is the boss', Lesotho judge tells police

Respect for individual rights and the Rule of Law is collapsing in several states in this region – Zimbabwe being a prime example. So it is a welcome relief to find a decision by a high court judge that is dedicated to the preservation and protection of constitutional values. The judge concerned, Sakoane Sakoane of Lesotho’s high court, had some powerful words of warning for the police after finding that they had attacked and assaulted a man for no acceptable reason.

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Tsolo Tjela is an unlikely candidate for police assault and brutality. At 51, he is solid citizen of Lesotho and chairs the Ha Likhotolo Village Crime Prevention Committee in the district of Mafeteng.

A LIFE LIVED TO UPHOLD THE PROMISSORY NOTE CALLED THE CONSTITUTION

This tribute records and celebrates the extraordinary life of a US Supreme Court Justice I held in high regard, and who, as law reports will show, has contributed immensely to a better world for all.

Her life was a quintessential cause for celebration. It was a life well lived, with total dedication to the cause of justice, and gender justice in particular. In penning these tributes my hope is that we, the servants of the law, and indeed ordinary members of the public, can draw appropriate lessons. I hope my daughters, and yours, can find further inspiration in the life of this extraordinary Justice.

Freedom of speech supports good governance says President of Sierra Leone

Things are looking up for the media in Sierra Leone. For decades journalists have been harassed by a colonial-era law that created the offence of criminal libel. And as recently as four months ago this section was used against a journalist and publisher who spent 50 days in detention before being freed on bail. Then, last week, the country’s President, Julius Maada Bio, signed the death certificate of the section used against the media, a step already begun in July when some members of parliament repealed this part of the law.

When Sierra Leone’s president, Julius Maada Bio, delivered the final blow to his country’s long outdated Public Order Act last week, he also took a strong step towards entrenching free speech and creating a vital, free media.

More than 20 Kenyan laws nullified after National Assembly disregards Senate

As the still-unresolved fight over the number of women in Parliament shows, Kenya’s constitution is very much a work in progress, with continuing disputes over what its text means exactly and how seriously to take clauses that some parties dismiss as merely ‘aspirational’. The latest case to be decided by the courts on gaps or possible ambiguities in the constitution concerns the very serious question of how the Senate and the National Assembly must relate to one another.

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The idea that one of the two houses of a country’s Parliament should sue the other is almost unthinkable – until you realise that this is Kenya, where the meaning of much of the Constitution is still to be interpreted.

Copyright & A2K Issues - 3 November 2020

This is a free online international Information Service covering various topics, including copyright, plagiarism and other IP matters, Open Access, open publishing, open learning resources, institutional repositories, scholarly communication, digitization and library matters, mobile technologies, issues affecting access to knowledge (A2K), particularly in developing countries; WTO and WIPO treaties and matters; Free Trade Agreements and TRIPS Plus; u

Intellectual Property:

Openness is a Human Rights Issue: Copyright Amendment Bill and Access to Educational Materials in South Africa

https://bit.ly/2TN5AYK

The Domestic Effect of South Africa's Treaty Obligations: The Right to Education and the Copyright Amendment Bill

https://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/research/61/

International honour for Malawi’s judges

When five of Malawi’s judges overturned that country’s presidential elections in 2019 because of 'grave irregularities', it seemed a brave and startling thing to do. Their decision led to fresh elections and then to a change in government. Now it has also caused them to win an international award, the Chatham House Prize, given to those the institute feels have made the most significant contribution to improved international relations.

It was no small thing that they did: when five Malawian judges overturned the 2019 presidential elections on account of ‘widespread, systematic and grave irregularities’ they knew the risks; on the day they delivered their judgment they came to court with an armed escort and wearing bullet-proof vests.

Announcing the award that is to be given to the judges, Dr Robin Niblett, director of Chatham House said that their ruling was ‘unprecedented in a country where past elections have been marred by irregularities, electoral fraud and violence.’

Judge claims CJ instructs how cases must be decided

The crisis in Zimbabwe heightened this week, with a spotlight now pointed at internal problems within the judiciary. First, a judge who was suspended on contested grounds has launched an urgent application to prevent a disciplinary tribunal from being set up to investigate her. In the course of her founding affidavit she made some grave allegations against the Chief Justice, for example, saying that he routinely intervened to ensure judges decided matters in a certain way.

Seldom has the judiciary of any country in this region been in the kind of mess now seen in Zimbabwe. President Emmerson Mnangagwa had no sooner announced that he had removed Judge Francis Bere from his position on the bench for unethical conduct, than a second bombshell exploded.

Attorney loses battle with Chief Justice over dirty hands

Strange to say, there are two current cases in the region citing a Chief Justice as respondent in a civil matter. Apart from the grave issue involving the Chief Justice of Zimbabwe (see above), there is another case in which the respondent is a Chief Justice. This time it is the judicial head of Eswatini, Bheki Maphalala, who was sued as a respondent, along with the government of Eswatini and the attorney general.

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Stripped of niceties, the point of this application was to win judicial support for attorney Muzi Simelane’s plea: the Chief Justice had barred him from appearing before any court in Eswatini and he was hoping that the high court would find the notice by the CJ to be ‘unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid’.

Mapping legal impact of the African Court

As the number of decisions by the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights grows, legal scholars have become keen to track its influence. Now there’s a formal project dedicated to doing just that – and it needs your help.

Are you a lawyer, judge, clerk, NGO or legal professional? Have you used the case law of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights in your work?

If so, the new AfCite Project would be keen to hear from you at africancourtmap [at] gmail.com

Support rule of law – by sharing law books

A small charity based in the United Kingdom has been helping judges, lawyers and NGOs by providing them with law books. The books are free and must be requested online. 

You may not have heard of it – it is a small UK-based charity after all – but since 2005 the International Law Book Facility has been able to send more than 66 000 law books to over 50 countries in Africa, Asia, South America, the Caribbean, the Pacific and Europe.

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