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Law imposing three-year wait for divorce found unconstitutional by Kenya’s appeal court

With five forms of marriage from which to choose, couples in Kenya could find it easy enough to tie the knot. It might be a different story for some if they want an early divorce, however. That’s because those opting for a civil marriage must wait a minimum of three years before they may start divorce proceedings. Claiming this provision is unconstitutional, a Kenyan advocate has brought legal action to test the three-year limitation.

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Couples wanting to marry in Kenya have some decisions to make: there are no fewer than five forms of marriage from which to choose.

Major new global research shows judges under stress – and without help to cope

A significant new report on judicial well-being has been published by the Global Judicial Integrity Network. It’s the result of a survey involving 758 judges from 102 countries across all parts of the globe. The high response rate is seen as indicating that the topic is one of great interest to judges generally. The report gives important data about the causes of stress among judges and the consequences of that stress; judicial responses to the changes forced by Covid-19, and what could be done to ensure better mental well-being among judges in the future.

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Major new research by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and its Global Judicial Integrity Network, shows a strong link, worldwide, between judicial well-being and judicial integrity.

African Court orders that Kenya pays reparations to Ogiek people of Mau Forest

One of Kenya’s most vulnerable communities, the Ogiek people of the Mau Forest, have been awarded more than USD 1.3m by the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights for breaches of their rights under the African Charter. The court found the breaches were committed by the Kenyan government, which has tried to remove the Ogiek from the forest to allow other undertakings there. According to the Kenyan government, much of its activity in the forest was to protect the local water sources which are of great importance to the rest of the country.

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The normally formal, hushed corridors of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Arusha, Tanzania, erupted with chanting and dancing last week, after the court read its decision on the reparations that must be made by the Kenyan government to the Ogiek people of the Mau forest.

‘Cry-baby’ politician should not have brought party political case to court – judge

When Malawian politician Shadrick Namalomba asked for judicial intervention on the question of where he should sit in the national assembly, Judge Mzonde Mvula set him straight. Such issues were not appropriate for the courts to consider, he said. It was clearly an issue related to conflict within the official opposition, and for a variety of reasons, it should never have been brought to court.

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During March, Shadrick Namalomba, a member of Malawi’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), asked the court to intervene in a dispute he had with his party. In particular, he wanted the leader of the DPP to be stopped from allocating him to seat 99 and later, to seat 100, for parliamentary debate.

Eswatini supreme court calls delayed trial ‘a form of torture’

Eswatini’s highest court has strongly criticised that country’s prosecution service for how long it took to bring a murder case to trial. Writing a review judgment in that case, the court called the 13 years it took to begin the trial ‘a form of torture’ for the accused in the matter, adding that the delays were unconstitutional.

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The supreme court in Eswatini has made stinging criticism of the country’s prosecution services because of how slow it was in bringing a murder suspect to trial. The court called these delays ‘not only a form of torture’ but also unconstitutional because it contravened ‘the speedy trial’ requirements of the country’s supreme law.

Nigeria’s top judges in public spat over disputed benefits - CJ says it's 'dancing naked in the market place'

Members of Nigeria’s apex court have come out strongly against the leader of the country’s judiciary, Tanko Muhammad. In the first letter of its kind, they have written to him, as Chief Justice of Nigeria to complain about a variety of issues related to conditions at court as well as conditions under which the judges operate.

In an unprecedented move, the entire complement of Nigeria’s supreme court has signed a protest letter sent to the country’s chief justice, Tanko Muhammad.

Impact on asylum seekers of South Africa’s tardy officialdom

For many reasons, South Africa is not an easy place to seek asylum, and new research by human rights lawyer Jacob van Garderen highlights some of the difficulties faced by asylum seekers as well as other migrants. Among the worst issues he found were ongoing problems over access to safe housing, difficulties around documentation because of a government system that doesn’t appear to be working – and the ever present threat of xenophobia.

Evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs (DHA) is not managing to process asylum seeker claims, according to interviews and research by South African human rights lawyer, Jacob van Garderen.

He said that one of the results of the failure by DHA to carry out this critical function was that asylum seekers could not be properly documented and this affected every aspect of their lives.

Desperate Afghan judges ask UK high court for review of government’s refusal to allow them entry

The alarming case of two Afghan judges, refused entry into the UK after the Taliban took over Afghanistan, is instructive. The two face the very real possibility that they will be found and executed by the Taliban, and yet the UK government has flatly refused to allow them in. Among other things, this illustrates how vulnerable judges, as a group, sometimes are, persecuted precisely for the work that they do as judges. When they seek asylum, it is difficult to say that they are simply ‘making things up’, an accusation often levelled at other would-be refugees.

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Two Afghan judges, both in hiding and known only as ‘S’ and ‘AZ’, have successfully asked the high court to reconsider a UK government decision refusing to allow them to relocate to the UK.

What about the children?

This year, World Refugee Day focuses particularly on the right of displaced people to be safe. But what does that mean for children? Laura Buffoni, senior community-based protection officer of the UNHCR’s regional bureau for Southern Africa, sat down for an interview with Justice in Africa to share some ideas and information with readers, starting with this statistic: globally, as well as in this region, women and children make up some 80% of the displaced population.

Laura Buffoni, senior community-based protection officer of the UNHCR’s regional bureau for Southern Africa:

This is an issue I’m passionate about. In my job as community-based protection officer I advise colleagues about child protection and gender equality and gender-based violence, among other subjects.

When we consider ‘safety’, the theme of this year’s World Refugee Day, we need to translate that term and think what is means for a child.

Don’t trade people fleeing war ‘like commodities’ – UNHCR

The UN High Commission for Refugees has issued a strongly-worded statement condemning attempts by the UK government to fly asylum-seekers to Rwanda. And while the UK courts have rejected attempts to halt the flights, the European Court of Human Rights has unexpectedly intervened to halt the first scheduled removal of asylum-seekers at least until July. The result has been to raise the international profile of the dangers and difficulties involved in asylum-seeking.

As UK government attempts to deport a first group of asylum seekers to Rwanda clash with local efforts to have the courts approve legal objections to the scheme, the UN’s refugee agency has spoken out strongly against the UK’s plan.

The UK should not be trying to ‘shift asylum responsibilities’ and ‘evade international obligations’, the UNHCR’s assistant high commissioner for protection, Gilliam Triggs has said.

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