Constitutional Court

Zim judges may no longer sentence young male offenders to be caned: constitutional court

The law in Zimbabwe has allowed a court to impose a sentence of “moderate corporal punishment” on any boy under 18 convicted of any offence. This has been justified as a way of keeping young people out of prison, among other reasons. But now the country’s constitutional court says that this section of the law runs foul of developing human dignity jurisprudence. Corporal punishment, as a court imposed sentence, has to go – it cannot be retained in a society that wants to ensure no-one is subjected to degrading treatment or punishment.

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The landmark decision by Zimbabwe’s constitutional court, delivered this week, had the unanimous agreement of the entire bench.

At issue was an earlier decision by high court judge Esther Muremba, delivered in January 2015, in which she found that court-imposed corporal punishment on male juvenile offenders was not constitutional.

“Dangerous” for politician to head Seychelles Human Rights Commission - judges

WHEN prominent Seychellois lawyer and political figure, Alexia Amesbury, decided to contest a seat on the country’s human rights commission, she came up against an apparently immovable obstacle: the law disqualifies candidates who hold office in or are employed by political parties from sitting on the HRC. Undeterred, she contested the constitutionality of the relevant sections of the law in the constitutional court of Seychelles.

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A new chapter for human rights in Zimbabwe?

A KEY section of one of Zimbabwe’s most used – and most despised – anti-human rights laws, the Public Order and Security Act (Posa), has been declared unconstitutional by eight senior judges sitting as that country’s constitutional court. Among others, the section allowed for repeated month-long bans on all public demonstrations in any areas. The judgment found the section effectively gave the authorities power to nullify two important fundamental rights – to demonstrate and to petition – “completely and perpetually”.

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SECTION 27 of Zimbabwe’s Public Order and Security Act – a law regarded with fear and hatred by the country’s human rights community – was challenged in the high court by a number of affected organisations. 

The section allows the authorities to ban demonstrations for a month at a time, in any area, and to repeat the ban indefinitely.

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