Covid-19

Conducting Court Hearings in Botswana under Covid-19 Restrictions: Hidden Feature of ‘extremely urgent applications’

Quite unfamiliar territory it is to find one’s self emailing a Judge about their case before it is filed (let alone emailing a Judge entirely) and even more peculiar calling a magistrate directly, but such are the extents to which extreme social distancing has led our court system in Botswana.

Introduction to Prescribed Restricted Process with regard to Access to Justice

On the 31st March 2020 the President of Botswana declared a state of public emergency and a lockdown duly ensued as of the 2nd of April 2020. In response to the actions of the President, the Chief Justice issued Practice Directive No.2 of 2020 which was later revised on the 10th of April 2020. The key paragraph dealing with access to justice during lockdown is captured below from paragraph 2.1 of the said Directive:

Dying surrounded by family ‘a most fundamental right’ - court

In a case that has moved readers worldwide and that sparked a judge to comment on the rights of a dying person even during the Covid-19 pandemic, a court has ordered that a terminally ill Nigerian woman living in the UK be allowed to leave the care home where she had been staying, to spend her last days with her extended family. In her decision on the case, UK Judge Nathalie Lieven commented that the woman had ‘something between a few weeks and 3 – 6 months to live’ and that the question was whether she should be able to spend those last days with her family.

Read judgment

The case, in which the woman was identified only as AO, was brought by her daughter, VE. In a decision delivered this week, the judge explained that VE asked the court to order that it was in her mother’s best interests to be allowed to leave the care home where she was then living, and move to stay with VE and her family.

Lockdown on hold, AG taken to task: latest from Malawi high court

In this week’s round of an ongoing dispute over the validity of Malawi’s Covid-19 restrictions, the high court has ruled that the government's planned regulations may still not be put into effect. The court has referred these challenges to the Chief Justice who will consider setting up a high court constitutional panel that would hear the problem and find a way forward. At its heart, the dispute is about whether the proposed restrictions have a valid legal base and/or contravene the constitution.

Read judgment

Both the two key issues in this judgment will have sent shock waves through Malawi’s legal community. First, the court confirmed that the challenge to the validity of the country’s Covid-19 restrictions was weighty enough to be referred to the Chief Justice, Andrew Nyirenda. If the CJ certified it was necessary, a special panel of high court judges would sit to decide the constitutional issues raised.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Covid-19