High Court

Judge sets new Malawi benchmark in child rape case

Against the background of a sharp and disturbing rise in the rape of children in Malawi (a problem in a number of other jurisdictions as well), a prominent high court judge has delivered a decision setting a new benchmark for sentence and judicial comment in response to such crimes. His important new judgment comes as police in Malawi have released new rape statistics showing that the number of young girls raped (or ‘defiled’ in terms of Malawi’s law) is far higher than the number of adult women raped.

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Malawi’s Judge Redson Kapindu is used to expressing controversial views on the law. As a law lecturer in South Africa, he had no hesitation in drafting insightful critiques of SA’s apex constitutional court. This was in his then capacity as law teacher at the University of Johannesburg, and as deputy director of the South African Institute for advanced constitutional, public, human right and international law.

Crisis averted in the Kenyan judiciary – for now at least

Kenya’s deputy chief justice, Philomena Mwilu, has been under pressure since she was arrested and charged in connection with corruption and tax related offences in 2018. But that has only increased since former chief justice, David Maraga, left office to take leave, pending retirement, late last year. Early in January 2021, an application, ultimately unsuccessful, was made for her to be prevented from taking over as Acting Chief Justice. And last week, a different application was granted, on an interim basis, for a similar order.

Just a fortnight after one high court judge threw out an attempt to suspend Kenya’s Acting Chief Justice, Philomena Mwilu, another judge did exactly that – and more.

High court judge Patrick Otieno sent shockwaves through the judiciary and the legal profession when, on January 29, he granted several temporary orders against the beleaguered deputy chief justice, Judge Mwilu. She is also currently acting as chief justice pending the appointment of a new candidate to fill the post vacated by former CJ David Maraga last month.

Uganda’s security forces wait 24 hours before obeying court order to end opposition leader’s house arrest

Uganda’s high court has encouraged many with its ruling that opposition leader Bobi Wine should be freed from what has effectively been a period of house arrest, during which security forces outside his home refused to let anyone go in or out. Given the atmosphere of tension and fear in the country, there was keen public interest in how the court would handle a matter which so obviously involved crossing the government and acting independently.

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If there was any pressure on the court, it was not obvious.

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