bail

Bail for death row prisoner after long appeal delay

Normally a reader might have little sympathy for someone convicted of murder who is serving time in prison. But the case of Malawian Charles Khoviwa is rather different. Sitting on death row for many years, Khoviwa has been trying to have sentence in his case reconsidered, now that the courts have decided that the mandatory death penalty, in force at the time of his conviction, is unconstitutional.

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Malawi’s judiciary is being hailed internationally for its bravery, sense of justice and protection of judicial independence.

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Bail for arrested government critics and others is becoming an increasingly common legal issue in countries of the Southern African Development Community. But a new decision from Kenya’s high court, written by Judge Joel Ngugi, is a model of how the problem should be approached. He was faced with a magistrate’s decision to approve the continuing detention of government critic Oscar Sudi, against whom no charges, not even so-called ‘holding charges’, had yet been formulated.

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Rude comments are the stuff of politics in Kenya, but they are also likely to stir anger and even violence. That seems to be one of the reasons that Kenya’s National Cohesion and Integration Commission, set up to prevent ethnic conflict, keeps a sharp lookout for remarks that could be regarded as ‘hate speech’.

High Court grants bail to Zimbabwe opposition leader, journalist

Two prisoners in one of Zimbabwe’s most notorious jails have been making international headlines as the courts repeatedly denied them bail. This week, however, as South Africa prepared to send a delegation to discuss the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe, and as the number of international political and legal statements critical of the continued imprisonment continued to grow, the two men were released on the orders of the high court.

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After more than a month in jail, two of Zimbabwe’s most high-profile prisoners were released on bail this week. Both had been refused bail by the same magistrate, and both were finally released on bail on the orders of two different judges on grounds that were remarkably similar.

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