Constitutional Court

Lesotho amnesty deal unconstitutional – apex court

Relatives of people murdered allegedly on the orders of prominent politicians in Lesotho have gone to court to challenge a new agreement brokered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Under this agreement, all parties have been urged to join talks on the way forward for the country, and those now in exile out of fear of being charged with murder and other crimes, have been assured no action would be taken against them if they returned for the talks.

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When Lesotho’s squabbling political parties bound themselves to a talk-shop, what – if anything – were the legal implications of that agreement? This question has become crucial in Lesotho, and it is made more complex by the fact that the idea of serious negotiations comes from the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Since SADC’s involvement is hardly a secret, what standing does any agreement related to the negotiations have in international law?

International honour for Malawi’s judges

When five of Malawi’s judges overturned that country’s presidential elections in 2019 because of 'grave irregularities', it seemed a brave and startling thing to do. Their decision led to fresh elections and then to a change in government. Now it has also caused them to win an international award, the Chatham House Prize, given to those the institute feels have made the most significant contribution to improved international relations.

It was no small thing that they did: when five Malawian judges overturned the 2019 presidential elections on account of ‘widespread, systematic and grave irregularities’ they knew the risks; on the day they delivered their judgment they came to court with an armed escort and wearing bullet-proof vests.

Announcing the award that is to be given to the judges, Dr Robin Niblett, director of Chatham House said that their ruling was ‘unprecedented in a country where past elections have been marred by irregularities, electoral fraud and violence.’

Victory for pregnant women after rethink by Constitutional Court

Uganda’s constitutional court has delivered a major victory for the health of pregnant women. The case was brought by the Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development, along with a health law expert and the relatives of two women who had died in childbirth because of Uganda’s inadequate maternal healthcare conditions. Five constitutional court judges found that the government was underfunding maternal healthcare to the extent that it was unconstitutional.

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