As judicial interest grows in the role that judges and courts should play relative to elections, the president of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights has addressed a conference of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Kenya on the issue. Among other questions, Justice Imani Aboud discussed the contribution that courts can make, through their work as arbiters of the law, that would help assure voters, and politicians, that elections are fair, and thus help reduce the likelihood of violence related to polls.
A spirited fight for tobacco to be completely banned on tobacco in Kenya has gone up in smoke: the constitutional and human rights division of the high court has refused a petition brought to overturn the existing laws controlling the production and sale of tobacco in Kenya. Instead, the unsuccessful litigant wanted tobacco to be outlawed completely to safeguard the health of that country’s people. Ibrahim Mahmoud Ibrahim, who brought the application, argued that tobacco actively contributed to lowering the standard of health of Kenyans, since it killed up to half of its users and was the world’s single biggest cause of preventable death.
A most extraordinary story emerged this week of an attempt by the Chief Justice of Botswana, Terrence Rannowane, to transfer a senior judge from the high court in Gaborone to Francistown, and of the judge’s response. The CJ is alleged to have justified the sudden transfer on the basis that a judge in Francistown, recently appointed to head the country’s independent electoral commission, needed to be based in Gaborone. The judge sought to be moved, Gabriel Komboni, now plans a judicial review of the CJ’s transfer decision. In the meantime, he has been granted an urgent interim interdict stopping the CJ’s attempted transfer of the case from one high court seat to another. The order further declared that the CJ’s appointment of three named judges to hear part of this dispute, ‘undermines judicial independence’ and is inconsistent with the constitution.
Uganda’s Court of Appeal has handed down a decision that could prove a turning point on the question of how marital property should be divided on divorce. The judges seem to have rejected what some have seen as a growing tendency in divorce matters, namely granting women half share of a property. Instead, these judges say equality doesn’t automatically mean equity, and that a claim for half of the property must be backed by facts if it is to succeed. In this case, they said, the facts did not warrant an equal split and the wife should get just 20% of the property.
A new decision by Lesotho’s high court could prove key in a developing crisis over a disputed contract, that could bring the mountain kingdom to its knees. A full bench has found that the contract, between Lesotho and Frazer Solar, a German company that provides alternative energy systems and that would have involved Lesotho in finding funding of €100m, was null and void. Lesotho has repudiated the contract, and as a result, Frazer Solar is claiming compensation that could cripple Lesotho. Now, the Lesotho court has found the contract flouted the constitution as well as public procurement provisions and key legislation. It also fingered the minister who had signed the contract, apparently on a frolic of his own, without cabinet authorisation. The decision could help Lesotho fight off claims for compensation by Frazer Solar. These are sizeable claims amounting to a significant part of Lesotho’s annual budget.