Supreme Court

Chaotic land ownership records shock Ghana's supreme court

A recent dispute over the rightful owner of a plot of land in Ghana has led the country's highest court to ask why people who sell the same land to several buyers in fradulent deals, are not prosecuted. The judges also expressed their shock at the state of Ghana's records from which it is often impossible to tell the rightful owners of plots of land. They said such chaos, combined with uncertainty about whether property deals are valid, would deter also foreign investors.  

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The case of Dora Boateng v Mackeown Investments illustrates the incredible complexity of buying land in Ghana. It also shows the difficulties faced by the courts in sorting out claims and counterclaims about land ownership.

‘Neglect, dereliction of duty’ by prosecution – and father convicted of child rape goes free

Three judges of Zambia’s supreme court have set free a father who was convicted of raping his young daughter and sentenced to 35 years with hard labour. How did it happen that what appeared a secure conviction was set aside? How will the three judges feel about their decision which, setting the father free, could place the daughter at risk again?

Lesson in democracy for Namibia's intelligence services

Namibia's top court has delivered a decision giving notice to the country's intelligence services that they, too, fall under the aegis of a constitutional democracy. The case concerned material collected by an investigative journalist that appeared to show the Namibia Central Intelligence Service (NCIS) was involved in corruption. But when he asked for comment he was informed that publication of his proposed story was unlawful, and the NCIS then went to court to enforce that prohibition.

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It is surely not overstating matters to call this a watershed judgment. Consider, for example, the argument put up by Namibia’s national intelligence services at the high court and again at the country’s top court: once “secrecy and national security” were at stake, they said, the courts were powerless to do anything other than order suppression of any publication that might infringe such security.

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