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.

Current contributors

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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REFORMING ZAMBIA’S MENTAL HEALTH LAW: THE CASE OF MWEWA AND OTHERS V THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND ANOTHER

Many African countries are currently being governed using laws which were passed during the pre-independence period. Essentially, this means that countries are running using colonial rules and laws. Specifically, many countries have got mental health laws that are archaic. Zambia is not an exception. It has the Mental Disorders Act of 1951.

by the Southern African Litigation Center and partners

 

every person is supposed to be provided with healthcare services without discrimination. That is to say, persons with disabilities must enjoy the same health range, quality and standard of services and treatment as provided to others. There should be no discrimination whatsoever.

 

Lesotho High Court Recognises the Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Female Soldiers

On 14 February 2018, the Lesotho High Court handed down judgment in a landmark case on women’s rights. The judgment of Sakoane J (as part of a 3 panel bench) in the case of Private Lekhetso Mokhele and Others v The Commander, Lesotho Defence Forces and Others sets an important precedent on the rights of pregnant employees in the military.

On 14 February 2018, the Lesotho High Court handed down judgment in a landmark case on women’s rights. The judgment of Sakoane J (as part of a 3 panel bench) in the case of Private Lekhetso Mokhele and Others v The Commander, Lesotho Defence Forces and Others sets an important precedent on the rights of pregnant employees in the military.

Making the road by walking: The evolution of the South African Constitution

.... This book looks at the character and thinking of some of the judges who have helped to start the process of making our Constitution real. The text reminds us that behind the structures of state and the mechanisms of power stand human beings, in all their frailty, but also in all their courage and determination to make our country better for the poorest in it. In other words, judges who take seriously the promise of constitutional governance and of social justice under law.

Justice Edwin Cameron, Constitutional Court of South Africa

 

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Namibian Supreme Court outlaws ultra-long prison sentences

In an important new decision, Namibia’s highest court has held that judges in that country may not impose jail terms that are “longer than a life sentence”. Prisoners serving life may be considered for possible parole after 25 years, and the supreme court has now held that any sentence in which parole is not at least notionally possible after 25 years, would be unconstitutional. The court was dealing with an appeal in which a trial court had imposed sentences of well over 60 years.

CARMEL RICKARD

NAMIBIAN judges may no longer impose extremely long jail terms that leave a prisoner worse off than under a conventional life sentence. The country’s top court has found it unconstitutional to hand down “informal life sentences”, via jail terms that are so long that offenders have no possible hope of ever being released before they die.

Uganda: Judicial Independence Reaffirmed

JUDGES of Uganda’s constitutional court have come to the rescue of two judicial colleagues: the two judges of that country’s industrial court were appointed for a five-year term, while the constitution says judges must have permanent, pensionable appointments. The two judges petitioned the court for help after they had no satisfaction when they raised the matter with the attorney-general. The court agreed that it was unconstitutional to appoint judges for a short-term period and that this could impact on judicial independence.

JUDGES of Uganda’s constitutional court have come to the rescue of two judicial colleagues, finding that the statutory five-year limited term of office of the industrial court bench undermined judicial independence and was unconstitutional and therefore invalid.

[Book] The implementation of modern African Constitutions: Challenges and prospects

In “The implementation of modern African Constitutions: challenges and prospects”, the authors try to identify obstacles to constitutional implementation in Africa and, on the basis of good practice, assess how this could be overcome. A single volume like this cannot unravel the complexity of the causes and effects of, and solutions to, the problem of non-implementation of constitutions in Africa: the subject is far too intricate.

Development: Economic Freedom Fighters v Speaker of the National Assembly

The Constitutional Court of South Africa has ruled that the National Assembly is obligated to make rules holding the President to account, and that it should fulfil its obligations in that regard without delay.  In his dissenting judgment, the Chief Justice characterises the majority judgment as a textbook case of judicial overreach - a constitutionally impermissible intrusion by the Judiciary into the exclusive domain of Parliament.

IN THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF SOUTH AFRICA

Economic Freedom Fighters v Speaker of the National Assembly, Case CCT 76/17, [2017] ZACC 47

Judgement Date: 29 December 2017

Media Summary

The following explanatory note is provided to assist the media in reporting this case and is not binding on the Constitutional Court or any member of the Court.

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