defences

Namibia’s apex court confirms new trend in media freedom cases

In a new judgment of extraordinary importance for freedom of expression and media freedom in Namibia, that country’s highest court has confirmed the development of the common law to give greater protection to the Namibian media so that, as the court put it, its ‘important democratic role of providing information to the public is not imperilled by the risk of defamation claims.’

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This new judgment illustrates how Namibia’s highest court is determined to protect media freedom, given its constitutional importance in that country. But behind the theoretical questions lie contested facts concerning the fate of three elephants, and a defamation case against the Namibian Sun, arising out of this dispute.

Under-age rape trial in Malawi results in steamy judgment by court

A magistrate in Malawi has produced a decision on a statutory rape case that, in part, reads like a racy novel. The magistrate was presiding in the trial of an 18-year-old, charged with ‘defilement’ – the Malawian version of rape when the complainant is underage. At issue was the defence of the accused who said he genuinely thought the girl involved was over 16 – and in dealing with that question, the magistrate rather sensationalised the sexual history of the girl concerned.

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This has to be one of the most bizarre judicial decisions I have ever read. The senior Blantyre magistrate who wrote it, Elijah Blackboard Dazilikwize Pachalo Daniels, seems to have believed that if perhaps he wrote his decision in a salacious style, it would add weight to his criticism of Malawi’s youth in general, and in particular of the young woman involved in the matter before him.

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