OF all the data unearthed by the research organization, AfroBarometer, and presented to the judges attending the recent core skills week in Cape Town, none is more surprising than this: though levels of mistrust of the courts are high across all the African countries surveyed, no fewer than 72 percent of participants believed that the courts have the right to make decisions that everyone must obey.
Against the widespread perception of court officials as corrupt, and the low levels of “trust” in the courts, the contrasting view that acknowledges judicial legitimacy is both startling and a possible basis for court-driven improvement.
The data, outlined for the judge-participants by AfroBarometer’s Sibusiso Nkomo, started the week’s work with some unexpected electricity: most of his audience were alarmed by the figures that showed the serious lack of trust in the court system reported by people surveyed in 36 African countries.
JUDGE Joseph Murangira was recently hailed in Jifa’s Quarterly Review as an unsung hero of judicial independence. A parliamentary committee, and then parliament itself, questioned a judgment that he had delivered (and that had been approved by the appellate courts), and threatened to “veto” it. The parliamentary authorities also made disparaging remarks about him and questioning his integrity, and the judge decided to sue parliament through the attorney-general. The full constitutional court bench found in his favour and awarded him significant damages. Murangira attended Jifa’s core-skills week in Cape Town, and was able to explain what had happened to his fellow judges from all over Africa. He told Jifa he had been heartened by the support he had received from his own colleagues in Uganda and from the judge-participants in the core-skills week.Please let us know at Jifa if you are aware of any other judge under pressure or of any case where judicial independence is under threat.
African Court Delivers a Landmark Decision on Statelessness
IN what is being hailed as a “monumental” decision for the continent, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights has ruled that Tanzania arbitrarily deprived a man of his Tanzanian nationality. The judgment, likely to affect many “stateless” people in Africa, stipulates that a decision to strip someone of nationality may only be taken after a fair judicial process, and that arbitrary deprivation is in breach of the University Declaration of Human Rights. Tanzania has been given 45 days to restore Anudo Anudo’s nationality, fix the gaps in its legislation and report back to the court on what has been done to comply with its order. legislation and report back to the court on what has been done to comply with its order.
The Southern and Eastern African Chief Justices Forum has made a public statement over the plans to remove the Chief Justice of Lesotho from her office. Read the full statement HERE.