latest content

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.

When women can’t confer nationality on their children equally with men, problems of statelessness grow – UNHCR

As the world’s states consider how to reduce the plague of statelessness, nationality laws come increasingly under the microscope. That’s because if a child can only take on the nationality of their father, and the father is unknown or dies or disappears before a child is officially registered as his, then the child could well be doomed to a life without nationality or citizenship. Thus, ensuring that there is equality between women and men when it comes to conferring nationality on children, would help greatly in reducing statelessness around the world.

Read report

 

Nationality laws often seem random in the way that nationality, and thus citizenship, is conferred on children.

Take the case of the Bahamas, one of two states in the Caribbean that don’t allow women to confer nationality on their children on the same terms as fathers.

Being stateless is ‘not merely a state of mind, or a choice’ – judge

Some readers might wonder how statelessness is viewed by courts in other parts of the world. For them, the recent Canadian case of Davood Helalifar v Minister of Citizenship and Immigration will be an eye-opener. Helalifar’s application for permanent residence was refused by a senior official and so Helalifar approached the federal courts asking for judicial review of that decision. Helalifar, who has had several criminal convictions since arriving in Canada, is originally from Iran.

Read judgment

Davood Helalifar’s application for judicial review was heard by Canadian Judge Shirzad Ahmed, who, before his 2017 appointment to the bench, won immense respect as a lawyer for his human rights work. Originally from Kirkuk, Southern Kurdistan, he went to Canada as a refugee in 1984. 

Serious court efforts brought to hold public officers, top members of the Zim government administration to account, curb corruption

Zimbabwe’s 2013 constitution requires a law to be passed to deal with accountability and transparency among public officers as well as top members of government. But virtually 10 years since the constitution was enacted, there is still no such law. Now, efforts are being made through the courts to ensure that something is, at last, done about this fundamental constitutional requirement.

Read judgment

Read statement by Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum

 

Steep damages against Kenyan media house as five advocates win defamation awards

A Kenyan media company has been punished by a series of high court judgments ordering that it pay what amounts in total to more than US$535 000 in damages for defamation against a group of senior advocates. The awards followed reporting by the company’s titles on the involvement of the lawyers in some high profile cases. The lawyers claimed, among other problems, that the articles were misleading and insinuated that they had obtained briefs improperly. One complaint, heard as a test case, was decided first, in 2020.

Safeguarding wildlife can mean danger, sometimes death, for local communities – and seeking compensation can prove difficult

Kenya’s national environment tribunals have been busy dealing with families suffering the effects of living close to wildlife. A series of recent decisions make clear how complicated it has become to manage human settlements that intersect with land on which wild creatures are also at home.

Free speech restrictions stressed by Eswatini’s election body make 2023 polls a ‘sham’

Eswatini’s election body has been challenged over recent comments by its chairperson that are seen as threatening free expression, the right to self-determination – and as even making upcoming polls a ‘sham’.

Read statement

There’s been sharp reaction to remarks by Eswatini’s elections and boundaries commission (EBC). The remarks were to the effect that members of parliament have only ‘limited’ powers and authority, and that these ‘do not extend to the monarchy’.

‘The monarchy is a no-go area,’ the EBC said earlier this week.

Decisive

Pages

x123xx