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JIFA Newsletter - Special Edition #IWD2019 - 8 March
Wed, 13 Mar 2019 - 11:00

African Court Nominated for prestigious award over judgment on women's rights

Though there are problems in the justice system, there are also many reasons for celebrating the achievements of judges and courts in the struggle for the rights of women. One of these achievements has been nominated (link opens in PDF) for the Women’s Link Worldwide annual Golden Gavel award: the African Court on Human and People's Rights has been nominated for this honour because of its decision on Mali’s Family Code.

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JIFA Newsletter #9/2019 - 7 March
Wed, 13 Mar 2019 - 11:00

Shock "advice" by International Court of Justice on another forgotten African colony

For tourists and investors, particularly those from South Africa, Mauritius is often seen as a quiet paradise, politically stable and a model of both democracy and humane economic development. Now, thanks to a new advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, Mauritius – geographically part of Africa – has also been placed right at the forefront of an international political row that has its origins in the period of high colonialism and that involves the USA and its crucial defence strategies, the UK and the United Nations. The bottom line? - the ICJ tells the UK that holding on to islands that rightly belong to Mauritius, is colonial and illegal. It cannot continue and all UN members are obliged to help implement a plan to end it.

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JIFA Newsletter #8/2019 - 28 February
Wed, 13 Mar 2019 - 10:45

Don't use "constitution" as a "mantra", Malawi Supreme Court warns

Malawi’s former agriculture minister, George Chaponda, was a key figure in that country’s “Maizegate” scandal around the importation of maize from Zambia to replenish stocks that had allegedly fallen low. Public criticism of apparent corruption led to a presidential commission of inquiry and then to high court action to have Chaponda stand down during the inquiry. Though the high court initially ordered Chaponda’s suspension, the supreme court has just ruled that it was wrong to do so, and that the judge had ignored binding precedent. The judgment was important for clarifying Malawi’s approach to judicial review. It has also taken an in-depth look at presidential prerogative among other issues.

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JIFA Newsletter #7/2019 - 21 February
Wed, 13 Mar 2019 - 10:45

"Disgraceful abuse of legal authority" - attorney re-writes court's judgment before delivery

In what two high court judges have described as misconduct “unprecedented in the annals of SA judicial history”, a magistrate has been found to have allowed an attorney to re-write his judgment before delivery. Even worse, the attorney concerned had appeared for one side in the case that led to the judgment. The magistrate, who has since died, initially wrote a judgment four pages in length, but after the attorney’s re-write this increased to 10 pages. The case involved a civil claim against the minister of police who, on hearing that the final judgment had been written by the attorney representing the opposing parties, asked for the judgment to be set aside by the high court. Reviewing the matter, the judges strongly criticized the magistrate and attorney involved and ordered that the case be heard again, from scratch, by someone from outside the district where the first trial was conducted. They also ordered that the legal practice council investigate the conduct of the attorney involved, and that the magistrate and attorney pay the legal costs of the review on a punitive scale.

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JIFA Newsletter #6/2019 - 14 February
Wed, 13 Mar 2019 - 10:30

Valentine's Day Winner: New Tanzanian court rules improve experience of justice by vulnerable groups

Tanzania’s Chief Justice, Ibrahim Hamis Juma, has promulgated new rules that could greatly change how people from vulnerable groups experience courts and the justice system. That is why this is Jifa's winning Valentine's Day 2019 good news story: we like the care it shows for normally-forgotten people with no one else to champion their cause. The rules prioritise cases involving disadvantaged people, and set deadlines for finalizing matters in which they are involved. The new rules alsoprovide that visually impaired people will get a free braille copy of any judgment or order in a case where they are involved, and that a specially assigned employee at each court will be responsible for making everyone at that court more sensitive to “vulnerability issues”.

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JIFA Newsletter #5/2019 - 7 February
Thu, 14 Feb 2019 - 08:45

Secularism in Ghana "obviously" encourages state accommodation of religion and religious identity - Supreme Court

A major challenge to Ghana’s planned national cathedral, brought on the basis of a challenge to alleged infringements of the country’s “secular” constitution, has just been dismissed by the supreme court. Ghana’s highest court found that secularism in Ghana “obviously” allowed and encouraged recognition and accommodation of religion and religious identity by the state. But this does not necessarily mean criticism is over – plenty of critics say it will be wasteful and an unjustified expense.

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JIFA Newsletter - 31 January 2019
Sun, 03 Feb 2019 - 10:30
Namibian lawyer tells national police chief: protect my client against abduction, rendition by Zim police

As the crisis in human rights and the rule of law continues in Zimbabwe, its impact – and growing condemnation of the government crackdown – has spread elsewhere in the region and abroad. In Namibia, an opposition MP, visiting from Zimbabwe, fears for his life after receiving information that a squad of Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation police have arrived in Namibia to abduct him. He believes the aim of the secret mission is to return him to Zimbabwe and put him on trial for treason. In other developments, confidential documents have been leaked by Zim police to The Guardian in the UK, showing police frustration at the impunity enjoyed by the military in the Harare area. And a ranking UK MP, Kate Hoey, has made a major speech condemning the Mnangagwa government for its dangerous infringement of the constitution and the rule of law.

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JIFA Newsletter - 24 January 2019
Thu, 24 Jan 2019 - 10:30
Law society meets with Chief Justice over torture, crackdown in Zimbabwe

Security forces in Zimbabwe are continuing to use torture and deadly force against people protesting against government restrictions and fuel hikes that have made petrol in that country the highest-priced in the world. Alarming pictures of security forces beating protesters shown round the world forced President Emmerson Mnangagwa, on an international visit to drum up foreign investment, to return before his original date, and take control of the situation. But little has changed since he arrived home earlier this week, and the violent crackdown is continuing. In a rare move, the Law Society of Zimbabwe has met with the Chief Justice, Luke Malaba, to raise concerns about the way that judicial officers are handling cases relating to the crackdown. They told him it appeared the courts were biased and that justice was not being meted out.

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JIFA Newsletter - 17 January 2019
Thu, 17 Jan 2019 - 10:30
Villagers' water pollution case should be heard in UK not Zambia, court hears

A major case on the environmental and human rights of villagers in Zambia was heard in the English courts over two days this week. The appeal concerns the question of where villagers, suing over the pollution of their water via mining action, may bring their dispute. They want the case heard in the UK while Vedanta, the parent company they are targeting, says the “natural forum” for the matter would be Zambia. If the English Supreme Court gives the go-ahead for the case to be heard in the UK, it will have a major impact on many other environmental cases and be a significant step in the development of environmental law, making it easier to hold international parent companies responsible for the actions of their subsidiaries.

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JIFA Newsletter 10 January 2019
Thu, 10 Jan 2019 - 10:15
Local shooting club targets Namibian defence force

In a bizarre case, due to be heard in the Namibian courts next week, the country’s defence force is alleged to have taken over the premises of a private shooting club outside the town of Rehoboth just before Christmas. The club says the army changed the locks and warned that the site is now off limits to the public as it is a “military zone” – all of this without notice or warning. The club is fighting back against this military might, by making an application for a spoliation order. Members say unless the dispute is heard urgently, their charitable work in the local community will be decimated and their other club activities will also be halted. The club’s officials claim that the defence force has taken the law into its own hands and that the club’s rights are being violated.

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Judges stress "sanctity" of constitution as tension mounts over rule of law
Fri, 10 Aug 2018 - 17:30

AT 814 pages, this critically important constitutional court decision was never going to be easy to digest. Five judges, headed by the deputy chief justice, Alfonse Chigamoy Owiny-Dollo, contributed to its length and they all had a lot to say.

Lone judicial voice in runup to Zimbabwe's elections
Fri, 10 Aug 2018 - 16:00

OF all the many pre-election cases heard by Zimbabwe’s courts, only one resulted in a judicial decision that broadened and protected democracy. And even in this case, the outcome was overturned on appeal.

The stand-out case was heard by Judge Joseph Martin Mafusire. In Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe v Zanu-PF he was asked for an interim order to prevent school pupils, teachers, school buses and buildings from being used as though they were resources belonging to the ruling party.

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