human rights

Judges recall when their lives were threatened during contentious legal challenge in Malawi

Two participants at a human rights training course for judges from 11 African countries, held in Cape Town mid-May, have first-hand experience of what making a bold human rights decision may sometimes demand. Judges Michael Tembo and Redson Kapindu were both on the bench, part of a five-judge panel in what they say was, without doubt, the most significant case in Malawi’s history.

Judges Redson Kapindu (who helped present the human rights training course) and Mike Tembo, are both members of Malawi’s high court, and were part of the five-member bench that heard a most significant case.

Following presidential elections in May 2019, they had to decide a challenge to the poll’s validity, litigation that raised the political temperature in Malawi to boiling point.

'Global jurist of the year': prestige award goes to Kenya’s Justice Mumbi Ngugi

One of the most prominent judges in Kenya has been given a major reward in recognition of her work in support of human rights. Judge Mumbi Ngugi, who sits on the anti-corruption and economic crimes division of the high court in Kenya, is also a world advocate for the rights of people with albinism at a time when, in certain parts of the world such as Kenya, people with albinism are targeted and sometimes even killed for ritual purposes.

Judge Mumbi Ngugi of Kenya's high court is a ‘role model’ for the law faculty of Northwestern University in the USA as well as for its students, ‘who aspire to be future Justice Ngugis’. That’s according to the Centre for International Human Rights (CIHR) at Northwestern University, the institution that is to award its annual prize to the Kenyan jurist.

Police officers cannot escape responsibility for rights abuse by citing ‘higher orders’ – Ugandan court

A judge of Uganda's high court has ruled that individual members of the police and other security forces may not rely on 'higher orders' or claims that they were waiting for orders 'from above', to justify human rights violations. Judge Margaret Mutonyi ordered significant damages as compensation to a number of applicants after she found police had abused their rights. In one of the two applications she dealt with, a number of people were unlawfully arrested and detained for participating in a legal protest against the raising of Uganda's presidential age limit.

Read judgment

It would be difficult to overstate the potential importance of a case just decided by the High Court in Uganda. More than a dozen applicants went to court against a number of police officers and the Attorney-General. Originally two separate matters, the applications were joined by the High Court judge presiding, Margaret Mutonyi, who said they raised similar issues.

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