constitution

Magistrate correct to have woman imprisoned for contempt over child access - Lesotho high court

A mother was found to have committed contempt of court by disobeying an order about child-access, shared with her ex-husband, and she was sent to prison. She later claimed the magistrate had wrongly ordered her imprisonment and she demanded financial compensation for alleged constitutional damages. But the high court in Lesotho has now found the mother was the one in the wrong, not the magistrate, and applauded the magistrate for protecting the dignity and effectiveness of the courts.

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The facts that gave rise to this case speak of a woman who flagrantly disobeyed the court and refused to back down. (Because a child is involved, the mother, who was the applicant in this case, is not being named here, being merely referred to by her initials.)

Drama as Zim court finds Chief Justice must retire, confusion about an appeal

An urgent application, brought last weekend to stave off a constitutional crisis in Zimbabwe, may not achieve this aim, despite a court victory. The case challenged the extension of office of the country’s chief justice, Luke Malaba, for an additional five years beyond the constitutionally mandated retirement age of 70, thanks to a new constitutional amendment. Human rights lawyer Musa Kika, in whose name the case was brought, said that if Malaba were to stay on, unconstitutionally, then all decisions he made would be void.

It was a weekend of great courtroom drama in Zimbabwe. Three high court judges unanimously decided that the country’s chief justice, Luke Malaba, was constitutionally barred from continuing in office beyond his 70th birthday on 15 May. He is thus now out of a job.

Malawi joins growing trend outlawing death penalty

First, Malawi’s courts found it was unconstitutional for the death penalty to be mandatory in cases where the accused was convicted of murder. Now the apex court has found, by an overwhelming majority, that the death penalty itself is unconstitutional, and has ordered that everyone on death row must be re-sentenced. One member of the court dissented, without ever commenting on the issue of the constitutionality of the death penalty, finding that the route to resolving the appeal before the nine judges could be resolved in a different way.

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The route to scrapping the death penalty came via an appeal brought to the apex court by Charles Khoviwa, convicted of murder in 2003.

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