A number of legal and human rights organisations have expressed support for the people of Zimbabwe and for lawyers who are struggling on behalf of clients arrested by the government of Emmerson Mnangagwa.
This week Human Rights Watch issued two statements on the situation in Zimbabwe. One urged that the Southern African Development Commnity (SADC) and the African Union should urgently speak about against the violent crackdown on ‘peaceful anti-corruption protests’.
The Law Society of Kenya has succeeded in putting at least a temporary brake on the government’s plan to transfer the judiciary and a number of independent bodies to the direct control of the executive. In May President Uhuru Kenyatta signed Executive Order No 1/2020, making these changes, and the law society responded by filing a petition shortly afterwards.
Issues around elections continue to be heard by the courts. This time the case concerned a scandal that was brewing in 2002, about the malfunctioning IT system that was supposed to compile a national voters’ register for Uganda’s then pending election. Members of the consortium that seemed unable to sort out the register brought a defamation action against the publication that broke the story. But the court found the report was truthful and accurate and that the public needed to know the information as the success of the election was at stake.
A prominent businessman from Kampala and a company he founded have failed in their attempt to sue The East African newspaper over a 2002 article related to preparations for the then-pending Ugandan elections.
Parents of children at a private school in Kenya have won an interim high court order in what promises to be a significant constitutional dispute related to Covid-19. The parents say they should not have to pay full fees for the third term of the 2020 school year and that the school may only charge for the services offered, namely for ‘virtual class or digital calls’.
The parents who brought the action against the Sabis International School, Kenya, first asked for an order that would keep their names confidential in order to protect the identities of their children. They are thus to be known as ‘SPG’. Given this order by the court, it is not possible to tell how many parents are involved in the legal action against the school.
The Young Lawyers Association of Zimbabwe scored a victory of note this week. The Zimbabwe Republic Police had issued a press statement on 25 July, listing in minute detail the documents that would be required at checkpoints throughout the country, with immediate effect. But the legal organisation challenged the lawfulness of the police action and were granted an interim order barring the police from demanding the documents listed in the press statement.
In another week of high drama for Zimbabwe, the country's police issued a press statement mid-week with a long list of documents required before people would be allowed to pass police roadblocks and checkpoints. For example, anyone working for a company or organisation would have to produce ‘Letters from Company Chief Executive Office (CEO) or General Manager (GM) stating the place, days and times of reporting on and off duty.
An important new set of principles on the proper financing and resourcing of the judiciary has been issued by the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association (CMJA). The principles, issued this month, are likely to prove just as influential as the Commonwealth (Latimer House) principles dealing with the accountability of and relationship between the three branches of government.
The Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association (CMJA) has been concerned for some time about the funding of the judiciary. Now it has issued a set of six principles that outline the standards that must be met.
This is a case that offers a warning lesson to every reader, judge, counsel and litigant. And it is particularly relevant to everyone struggling to come to terms fully with the ways that the coronavirus pandemic affects the practice of law. The UK judge at the heart of this matter was dealing with a difficult case of possible child abuse arising from the death of a baby, and had to decide what arrangements should be made for the care of the remaining child.
The case before Judge Frances Judd was a very sensitive and distressing family matter. A, the older of two young children in a family, had died aged 18 months from what the court heard was ‘a catastrophic head injury accompanied by significant bruising.’ What was to happen to the younger brother, E, now aged 16 months? Was it safe for him to stay with his mother?
When a government removes one judge from office in a way that flouts the constitution and judicial independence it would be bad enough. But a case brought to the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) by Justice Malek Mathiang Malek against South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir for dismissing him, was just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, Justice Malek was one of more than a dozen judges dismissed by the government in 2017. But Justice Malek, who has had more than 20 years’ experience on the bench, decided he was not simply going to accept the situation.
In its latest decision, the East African Court of Justice has come out strongly against unconstitutional government action to dismiss members of the judiciary. The case involved a senior member of the judicial bench in South Sudan, appeal court judge Malek Mathiang Malek, who challenged his 2017 dismissal by President Salva Kiir.