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. The new decision, spelling out the reparations to be undertaken by Kenya, was delivered last week, and follows a judgment in 2017 in which the court found that at least seven separate Charter rights of the Ogiek had been breached by Kenya.
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.
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. A full bench of the supreme court confirmed the revised 23-year sentence imposed on appeal, adding that if the question of the prosecution’s delays had been raised during the hearing of the review, it could have ‘seriously considered’ reducing the sentence by at least five years.
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. They moan about a memo informing them that electricity will operate at court only between 8 and 4 due to a diesel shortage, about amended court rules that have not been finalised, and about not being able to take ‘accompanying persons, due to age’ when they travel for training. The CJN in turn has responded with a statement that, by implication, criticises the judges for their initial letter, saying it amounted to ‘dancing naked in the market square’. In the letter he makes assurances, however, that everyone at court is getting on with their work and doing their normal duty.
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.