Is a sitting judge allowed to take a job as head of his or her country’s prosecution services? And if a court finds that it was unconstitutional for the judge to accept the second position, what is the status of the judge’s decisions as a prosecutor? These, and difficult, related questions, have been raised in Uganda, where a series of judges have been appointed to other government jobs, without first resigning from the bench. The initial answers to the questions around the DPP job were decided in a constitutional petition last month: it’s unconstitutional, the court said, and from now on decisions by any judge who takes another government position without first resigning as a judge, will be invalid. Faced with an uproar from the prosecution services, however, the supreme court, the country’s apex forum, is to reconsider the question.
The women of Malawi had barely time to digest a landmark high court judgment ordering a company to pay ‘aggravated damages’ in a workplace sexual harassment matter, when a second, similar, high profile matter hit the news. This time it was a report from the Malawi Human Rights Commission which found the CEO of the country’s broadcasting corporation had sexually harassed women on the staff and recommended tough measures in response.
The women of Malawi have been handed a legal victory that will stand them in good stead when faced with sexual harassment and assault at the workplace. It involves a woman working as a time-keeper for construction company Mota-Engil, who went to court over her experience of sexual harassment. She claimed that because her employers did nothing about her complaints, and thus allowed the situation to continue, Mota-Engil was liable to pay ‘aggravated damages’ to her. During the trial it emerged that the company did not have a proper system in place in terms of which action would be taken immediately that a sexual harassment claim was made.
Africa’s premier regional human rights court, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, has released a detailed report on its activities and the challenges it faces. The report, published earlier this month, gives information about the difficulties and achievements of the court during 2020 as well as its plans for the immediate future.
The supreme court of India has slammed judges who impose ‘wholly inappropriate’ bail conditions in cases of sexual violence, like requiring that the accused visit the woman concerned and give her gifts. The court has also ordered that judges, lawyers and prosecutors must undergo gender sensitivity training to stop language and bail conditions that retraumatise victims. The decision, which comes during international women’s month, is likely to be well received by women’s organisations, professional law bodies and the courts in Africa where rulings from India are often quoted with approval.