The African post-colonial period marked a new paradigm of triangular discourse amongst law, justice and development in the international playground. The intellectual metamorphoses of this discourse quickly gained momentum in the mid-60s and was patented the “Movement of Law and Development”. Highly alluring to professors and intellectuals from American law schools, this intellectual movement regarded “law” as an instrument to reform the society and ‘lawyers and judges” as social engineers. With this movement, the narrative was that law is central to the development processes. Then in the early 90s, the movement gave birth to the idea of the “Justice System Reform Program”, also referred to as the “Judicial Reform Program”. The emergence of this idea immediately became a serious agenda in the strategic themes of international financial institutions and bilateral states cooperation structures under the wrestling juxtaposition of “rule of law” and “poverty eradication”. The geographical focus of this idea was only limited to the developing nations of Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and some Latin American countries.
There are two main rationales behind the theoretical innovation of ‘judicial reform’: a well-established and effective justice system is not only robust enough to confront corruption and violation of rights (with the assumption that courts as custodies of human rights), it can also be relied on to protect the property rights of foreign investors (the concept of development has always been viewed as capitals flowing from north to south-until very recently that the newly rising economies of BRICS- an acronym for the multi-dimensional partnership between Brazil, Russia, Indian, China and South Africa- proved otherwise that capital can also flow from south to south). The ambition of reforming judiciaries in developing countries beseeches building the practical meaning of judicial independence and professional competence that can help build an unwavering system of justice delivery. However, this initiative seems to have totally been lost in translation and taken advantage of for political purposes by the Ethiopian government.
After spending more than 21 years at the helm of Ethiopian politics, Meles Zenawi died of an unannounced sickness in August 2012. The absolute dominance of the ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), facilitated the smooth transition of power to the former Deputy Prime Minister, Halemariam Desalegn. Following the confirmation of Hailemariam as the new Prime Minister, the EPRDF announced that it has imposed, as part of its succession policy, two five-year term limits on all ministerial positions, including the position of the Prime Minster.The Party has also set a maximum age limit on the same positions. Henceforth, a Minister cannot be more than 65 years of age.
For the past few years, it has been my privilege to teach Constitutional Law at Makerere, the nation’s oldest University. As it is a first year course, I am one of the first teachers who meet with the young impressionable minds that are similarly privileged to gain admission to the law programme. In the course of class discussions, it quickly becomes obvious that even these fresh minds are cynical about the state of constitutionalism in our country, an impression that is only made stronger when we begin to delve into the text and the promise of the 1995 constitution and to compare this not only with our Constitutional history but with the present reality of how the country is being governed. I try as much as possible in these discussions to refrain from infusing my own views into these debates, my intention being to demonstrate the method of constitutional argument and to encourage critical thinking and reflection rather than suggest that there is a ‘right’ answer – which indeed, many times, there is not. This is often frustrating for the students whose constant refrain is: ‘But what is your view?’
I do not agree with what [Malema has] to say but I will defend to the death [his] right to say it – VoltairePosted: 19 September, 2012
The rule of law is the overarching concern as regards the events in Marikana- after other issues such as: the arrest and charge of the miners only to be released later (see article by Killander on AfricLaw), human dignity, the right to assemble and the right to life were raised. It was appalling to see a South African turned away from a lawful gathering under dubious legal grounds (Regulation of Gatherings Act 205 of 1993) and on the pretence that he ‘might’ incite striking miners to commit a criminal offence. Julius Malema was turned away by police at the Wonderkop stadium, Marikana after he tried to attend a gathering by the striking miners, and possibly to address them.
Late at night on 23 August2012 the President of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, ordered the executions of nine death row inmates despite international condemnation and even division in his own cabinet. At least three of the death sentences were for the crime of treason; the remaining cases involved murder. Two of the nine were Senegalese nationals, and at least one had been on death row since before the current death penalty law entered into force. These cases are constitutionally troubling and may erode the rule of law in The Gambia, Sub-Saharan Africa’s smallest mainland country with a population of 1,3-million.
In November 2011 a Kenyan High Court Judge made history. Justice Nicholas Ombija made a controversial ruling issuing an arrest warrant for President Omar Al- Bashir of Sudan in the event he visits the Republic of Kenya. The arrest warrant was held as valid pending a full Appeal on Tuesday 20 December 2011 by the Kenya Court of Appeal after the Attorney General, Githu Muigai, rushed to court claiming that Judge Ombija’s ruling was creating ‘international anxiety in International circles’. The Attorney General of Kenya appealed the ruling on the arrest warrant and also applied for a stay on the arrest. The stay was denied pending hearing of the appeal. ICJ-Kenya has raised a preliminary objection citing that the Attorney General of Kenya under the 2010 constitution is not the competent representative of the Kenya Government in criminal cases like the All Bashir case. His decision upheld, Justice Ombija issued a provisional arrest warrant for President Bashir on Monday 23 January 2012. It was served on the Minister of Internal Security, Geroge Saitoti, ordering him to arrest President Bashir and hand him over to the ICC if he steps on Kenyan soil.