The Gambia is largely Muslim-dominated, with about 95 per cent of the population being Muslims. It is also highly traditional. Thus, Islam significantly influences people’s ways of lives. In the recent years, there has been much discussion, in the media and political fora, about homosexuality and homosexual rights in The Gambia. The attitude of the ordinary Gambian towards homosexuals is outright hostile, fanned by the extreme condemnation from both political and religious leaders. People are made to believe that homosexuals are cursed and support for homosexual rights would spell doom for Islam and Gambian culture, whatever that means. Due to this charged hostility towards homosexuals, there are only few lone voices that dare to challenge current beliefs about and hostility towards homosexuality or campaign to hold the state accountable for the respect, protection and fulfillment of the sexuality rights. The criminalisation of homosexuality provides the state with an opportunity to violate the rights of homosexual with impunity and absolute disregard for the rule of law.
The arch opponent of homosexuals and their rights is the president of The Gambia. During the recent celebration s to mark The Gambia’s independence celebration, on 18 February 2014, President Yahya Jammeh stated that his government “will fight these vermin called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes; if not more aggressively”. He further noted that The Gambia would not spare any homosexual, and that no diplomatic immunity would be respected for any diplomat found guilty or accused of being a homosexual. The next day, United States’ Secretary of State John Kerry denounced the President Jammeh’s comments, calling on the international community to send a clear signal that statements of this nature are unacceptable and have no place in the public dialogue.
When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice beneath new generations. – Solzhenitsyn
It is in the wake of the Public Protector’s findings regarding an upgrade to the President Zuma’s private residence in Nkandla that, the importance and our tolerance for Chapter 9 institutions comes to the fore. Having presented her findings to the public, the Public Protector was hailed by some as a heroin to a South Africa that is ridden with corruption, whilst some questioned her credibility and the integrity of her office. It is submitted that these debates are ordinary in a vibrate democracy like South Africa’s and should be welcome. However, what should not be welcome are unsubstantiated remarks aimed at undermining the office of the Public Protector, or any of the other Chapter 9 institutions, namely, the South African Human Rights Commission; the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities; Commission for Gender Equality; the Auditor General; and Electoral Commission. These institutions, as provided for in section 181 of the Constitution, form a cornerstone to the sustenance of democracy and are important for the full realisation of other democratic principles such as accountability, respect for the rule of law and human rights.
There are currently over three thousand double taxation treaties (DTTs) worldwide. DTTs are agreements between two states that are designed to relieve international double taxation and prevent fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income. Double taxation occurs when the same income is subject to two, or even more, taxing jurisdictions, which may result in an impediment to cross-border trade and investment.
When concluding a DTT, the two sovereign states involved draw inspiration mainly from the OECD Model Tax Convention on income and capital (OECD Model). However, DTTs can also be based on the so-called UN Model, which is supposed to be a suitable framework for DTTs between developing countries and developed countries. Since DTTs have been traditionally viewed as one means of increasing the movement of foreign direct investment (FDI) to the developing world, African countries would find it advantageous, at least prima facie, to multiply such agreements with a country like China.
Although there have been no new posts in the first two months of the year 2014, AfricLaw remains committed to providing space for the discussion of issues of substance, forming of opinions and information sharing among people living on the continent. AfricLaw still strives to serve as a platform for Africans who are in the diaspora and anyone else who is interested to share their thoughts and opinions on the rule and the role of law in AfricLaw. And also to serve as a vehicle for comments on legal developments in the rest of the world.
Four months shy from its second year, AfricLaw continues to remain a point of reference for issues concerning the rule and role of law in Africa. This would not have been possible had in not been for submissions from 16 different countries, spanning across 3 continents, addressing issues ranging from prisoners’ rights, taxation methods in Africa, to the right to education – all in an effort to create a dialogue and to foster an interest on matters that affect Africa.
AfricLaw, as launched by the Centre for Human Rights and the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa, would like to extend a word of thanks to all contributors, visitors to the blogs, and those who have interacted with the blog one way or another. All your contributions are invaluable and we trust you will continue to support AfricLaw in the future.
We furthermore wish to extend an invitation for further contributions to students, academics, researchers, international and national civil servants, legislators and politicians, legal practitioners and judges.
AfricLaw wishes you a peaceful year-end holiday and we hope to ‘see’ you next year when posting will resume (note that contributions are still welcome throughout the holidays).
- AfricLaw Editorial Team
“You can have a Lord, you can have a King, but the man to fear is the tax collector”- Sumerian proverb.
Today, fearing the tax man does not seem to hold true when it comes to the protection of taxpayers’ rights in most European countries. Indeed, for several decades now, taxpayers’ rights in Europe have been benefiting from internationalisation of human rights process. Under the impulse of case law from the European Court on Human Rights (ECHR) and the European Court of Justice (ECJ), human rights have become a fundamental part of taxation. While Africa is running the marathon of attracting and boosting private investments, it may be vital to stimulate the interaction of these two areas of law as a means to strengthen the rule of law on the continent.
In Africa, tax is primarily regarded as a civic duty. Article 29 (6) of the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights (hereinafter referred to as “the Charter”) states that “the individual shall also have the duty (…) to pay taxes imposed by law in the interest of the society”. It follows in particular that the state has the right to levy taxes on its citizens, whether individual or corporate. In contrast, citizens are entitled to enjoy property rights in respect of Article 14 of the Charter or any other pertinent instrument relating to international human rights law. Since the state and its citizens have opposing interests, a balance is obviously required between the individual’s right to property and the state’s right of establishing taxes. In others words, in case of a dispute regarding taxation, the judge should be able to censure any excessively high tax burden on citizens.