Constitutionalism and Human Rights

This channel aggregates information on constitutionalism, constitution-making, constitutional reform, human rights and democracy issues in Africa. We curate and feature legal developments, caselaw and legislation, scholarly commentary, blogs, and columns.

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Carmel Rickard

Legal Columnist.
Editor in Chief of the Newsletter of the Judicial Institute for Africa at UCT

Since she began working as a journalist in 1981, Carmel Rickard has specialised in writing about legal affairs. She has won widespread recognition (local and international) as well as a number of awards for her work, and in 1992/3 was awarded a Nieman Fellowship to Harvard.

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Challenging culture of impunity in Kenya

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The solemn opening remarks by Judges John Mativo and Pauline Nyamweya signaled the gravity of the decision they were about to give and the horrors the case would disclose: torture, unlawful abduction, years in illicit detention, lives wrecked, bodies broken.

Law is the “bloodline of every nation”, the judges said. “The end of law is justice. It gives justice meaning.” It was a shield or refuge from misery, oppression and injustice.

Don’t use “constitution” as a “mantra”, Malawi’s supreme court warns

Read the judgment on MalawiLII

When Malawi was gripped by a maize shortage scare a few years ago the government arranged to buy more from Zambia. But allegations of corruption soon followed against George Chaponda, then minister responsible for agriculture, as well as other officials in Malawi and in Zambia.

So great was the public outcry that a presidential commission of inquiry was established to investigate.  

“Ogoni 9” case back in the spotlight, this time in the Netherlands

The fight for justice for the “Ogoni 9” moved to the Hague this week where representatives of nine men, executed by Nigeria’s military government in 1995, argued that this was an appropriate forum to deal with their case and gave evidence of the trauma of the men's secret trial and execution.

The families want to sue Royal Dutch/Shell in the Netherlands and claim that the petroleum giant gave help to the Nigerian troops at the time. They say that Shell played a significant role in the “unlawful arrest, detention and execution” of their husbands.

Secularism in Ghana "obviously" encourages state accommodation of religion and religious identity - Supreme Court

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As part of Ghana’s 60th anniversary celebrations in 2017, the president, Nana Akufo-Addo, turned the first sod for a major national symbolic structure – the Ghana National Cathedral. To be funded by individuals and organisations within the Christian community, the cathedral is said by the government to be a priority project. But it is not without its critics.

Reaction to shock suspension of Nigeria's Chief Justice

International and local outrage has followed the shock suspension of Nigeria’s chief justice, Walter Onnoghen, by the country’s president, Muhammadu Buhari on January 25, 2019.

Lawyers across Nigeria held a two-day protest against what they termed the “illegal suspension” of the CJ, boycotting the courts for the duration of the demonstration. The protest was called for by the Nigerian Bar Association following a national emergency meeting called to consider the suspension, and it was widely observed.

Namibian lawyer tells national police chief: protect my client against abduction, rendition by Zim police  

A prominent legal firm in Namibia has written to that country’s inspector general of police asking for action to protect a senior Zimbabwe opposition figure, Chalton Hwende, on holiday in Namibia. Human rights lawyer, Norman Tjombe, told Jifa that his client, still safe in Namibia at the moment, had received credible information that members of Zimbabwe’s intelligence agency, the much-feared Central Intelligence Organisation, had arrived in Namibia intent on abducting him and taking him back to Zimbabwe.

Death penalty overturned for woman who murdered, dismembered husband

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The facts of the case before Uganda’s Supreme Court were just about as bad as they could be.

The accused murdered her 65-year-old husband and when family and others asked where he was she pretended that she did not know. She even told their daughter that he “had other women” and might be with one of them.

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