Where to Zimbabwe? Another stage set for flawed elections under Mnangagwa’s leadershipPosted: 3 April, 2023 Filed under: Nqobani Nyathi | Tags: accountability, African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, amendment of the Constitution, by-elections, constitution, Constitution of Zimbabwe, democracy, electoral disputes, Emmerson Mnangagwa, free and fair elections, government-affiliated media, Guidelines on Access to Information and Elections in Africa, human rights, Luke Malaba, peaceful resolution, Private Voluntary Organisations Bill, PVO Bill, rise to power, unlawful killings, violence, ZEC, Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission 1 Comment
Author: Nqobani Nyathi
Doctoral Candidate and Project Officer, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
In 2018, and perhaps at the peak of his popularity, Emmerson Mnangagwa narrowly won a disputed Presidential election in Zimbabwe. In the aftermath, chaos ensued, and soldiers shot and killed people. No one has been held accountable so far, perpetuating an environment of impunity and fear. Mnangagwa’s unconstitutional rise to power the previous year had subverted democracy and as predicted, he has continuously demonstrated an unsettling disregard for the Constitution and the principles of democracy. Zimbabwe’s next general election is scheduled for some time this year, on a date yet to be announced. If Mnangagwa persists on his current path of undermining the Constitution, the election could lack the legitimacy necessary for a functioning democracy.
What type of federalism should South Sudan adopt and why?Posted: 12 January, 2022 Filed under: Joseph Geng Akech | Tags: Administrative Areas, constitution, constitution building process, ethnic federalism, federalism, governance, governance framework, International IDEA, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, Ministry of Federal Affairs of the Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity, Republic of South Sudan, Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity, RTGoNU, South Sudan, territorial federalism 1 Comment
Author: Joseph Geng Akech
South Sudanese human rights lawyer and PhD candidate, University of Pretoria, South Africa
This article spotlights existing debates under the on-going constitutional design process on the type of federalism South Sudan should adopt. It is a debate with varying and potentially divisive perspectives. Dominant proposals in these debates are territorial and ethnic federalism. I join this debate with an open mind, and I therefore try to refrain from taking sides. This article thus tries to bring to fore, the underlying arguments in both perspectives and makes three recommendations to break the impasse. The first option is to conduct a referendum for the public to decide while the second calls for a scientific comparative study on performances of both territorial and ethnic federalism. The third calls for open and transparent public debates on the type of federalism South Sudan should adopt.
Child marriages in Zimbabwe and the failure by the State to fulfil its obligations to protect the rights of childrenPosted: 26 August, 2021 Filed under: Nqobani Nyathi | Tags: ACERWC, Africa, African Commission, child marriage, child marriages, children's rights, Committee of Experts on the Rights of the Child, constitution, Constitution of Zimbabwe, discrimination, gender inequality, girl child, human rights, Maputo Protocol, Marriage Act, Marriages Bill, provisions, religion, religious justification, religious sects, reproductive health, rights of children, rule of law, sexual rights, SRHR, women's rights, Zimbabwe Leave a comment
Author: Nqobani Nyathi
Researcher, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
Recently, there have been reports about a 14-year old child who died during childbirth. The reason why such a tragedy happened and may continue to happen is the State’s failure or unwillingness to eradicate child marriages. This article seeks to outline Zimbabwe’s legislative framework regarding child marriages and its obligations in terms of international law.
The legal position
Child marriage is illegal in Zimbabwe as held by Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court. In January 2016, the apex court rightly found that the legislative provisions legalising child marriages were inconsistent with the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The Constitution has fairly strong provisions promoting and protecting the rights of children, including the right to be protected from sexual exploitation or any form of abuse. The Court also observed that historically there has been a “lack of common social consciousness on the problems of girls who became victims of early marriages.”
The fact that child marriages had to be declared illegal through litigation exposes this lack of common social consciousness. Zimbabwe had been clinging to the archaic law legalising the marriage of children in terms of both the Marriage Act 81 of 1964 and the Customary Marriages Act 23 of 1950.
Infringement on democracy, human rights and the rule of law through constitutional amendments: What mechanisms exist to restore Zambia?Posted: 4 December, 2019 Filed under: Juliet Nyamao | Tags: African Charter on Democracy, Amendment Bill 2019, constitution, Constitution of Zambia, constitutional amendments, democratic changes, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), ECOWAS, Elections and Governance, EU, international treaties, political pluralism, SALC, The Gambia, Zambia Leave a comment
Author: Juliet Nyamao
Human Rights Attorney, Kenyan Bar
The first Constitution of the Republic of Zambia (1964) established a multiparty system of government. However, increasing tensions between the ruling party and the opposition parties compelled the first president of the Republic of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda, to institutionalise a one-party rule through the enactment of the Constitution of Zambia Act, 1973. The presidential rule in Zambia was reinforced, with the president as the sole player on the political scene. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the cold war in the early 1990s, a wave of multiparty democracy swept across the African continent leading to emergence of political pluralism. Many countries in the Southern African region adopted constitutional dispensations that allowed political pluralism and cemented the roles of the different branches of governments. Zambia, a former British colony, was no exception to the wind of change; they adopted their new Constitution of Zambia, 1991 that restored multiparty democracy. Thereafter, the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016 spelt out the roles and mandates of the different branches of government and directed that all State organs and State institutions abide by and respect the sovereign will of the people of Zambia. This Constitution ensured separation of powers between the various branches of the government, which is crucial to uphold democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
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The impact of state surveillance and censorship of sexuality on the lives of LGB Ethiopians living in Addis AbabaPosted: 28 January, 2019 Filed under: Selamawit Tsegaye Lulseged | Tags: Addis Ababa, African Charter, African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, censorship, constitution, constitutional ban, Criminal Code, discrimination, eroticism, Ethiopia, FDRE, hegemony, hetero-normative, human rights, ICCPR, ICESCR, imprisonment, International Bill of Rights, LGB, Penal Code, same-sex, same-sex sexual act, sexual minority rights, sexuality Leave a comment
Author: Selamawit Tsegaye Lulseged
African Union Human Rights Observers Mission in Burundi (formerly)
Dialogue regarding same-sex sexual act and eroticism is a recent phenomenon in Ethiopia. As is true for most African countries, in Ethiopia, there is a strong heterosexual culture that bases its legitimacy on the hegemony of masculinity. The social construction is based on the values of family that depends on traditional gender role and religious dogmas. In many discourses, lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) individuals are mentioned in relation to pedophilia, mental sickness and people who chose deviant sexual behavior. Thus, same-sex sexuality is not only something that is pushed under the rug, but also subjected to state scrutiny and embargo.
Freedom of expression: Hopes, anxieties and skepticism in Liberia’s nascent democracyPosted: 2 August, 2018 Filed under: Urias Teh Pour | Tags: constitution, Criminal Libel laws, decriminalise free speech, ECOWAS Treaty, free speech, freedom of expression, Freedom of Information Act, George Manneh Weah, human rights, ICCPR, Konate v. Burkina Faso, Liberia, Liberian Football legend, Ministry of Information, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, newly elected Governmen, Penal Law, Table Mountain Declaration, UN Human Rights Committee 2 Comments
Author: Urias Teh Pour
Legal Advisor on the Liberia Law Society Land Rights and Freedom of Expression Projects
The recent move to repeal Liberia’s Criminal Libel laws by the newly elected Government of former Liberian Football legend, George Manneh Weah, has been hailed by human rights groups as a positive step in the right direction. The effort to decriminalise section 11.11 of the Penal Law comes barely two months following the visit of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression to Liberia. The UN Officials called on the Government of Liberia to review all laws that undermine free speech, as guaranteed by article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other instruments ratified by Liberia.
Where is democracy? Reflections on the ascendancy of Mnangagwa as president of ZimbabwePosted: 27 November, 2017 Filed under: Charles Ngwena | Tags: Ayi Kwei Armah, constitution, coup, democracy, dictatorship, elections, Emmerson Mnangagwa, ethnic cleansing, Gukurahundi, Matebeleland, military, military intervention, national army, political change, Robert Mugabe, white minority rule, ZANU-PF, Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Defence Force 3 Comments
Author: Charles Ngwena
Professor of Law, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
What seemed unimaginable has happened. After an uninterrupted ‘reign’ of 37 years, Robert Mugabe, the de facto emperor of Zimbabwe, has ‘resigned’ from office. There has been genuine jubilation not least among those who have been at the receiving end of Mugabe’s increasingly despotic, corrupt and dysfunctional governance – the majority of Zimbabweans. Emmerson Mnangagwa has taken office as Mugabe’s successor. It is a historic moment. Since attaining independence in 1980, Zimbabweans have only known Mugabe as their political supremo – initially as prime minister and latterly as president. The fact of Mugabe’s departure from office, alone, has raised hopes that we might be at the cusp of a compassionate, fairer, humane and democratic Second Republic. At the same time, the clouds are pregnant with contradictions, counselling us not to throw caution aside even as we pine for change. Why is this?
Stripped of Dignity: The Struggle for LGBT Rights in TanzaniaPosted: 17 March, 2017 Filed under: Daniel Marari | Tags: consensual sex, constitution, discrimination, equality, gender identity, hate crimes, HIV/Aids, homosexuality, imprisonment, LGBT, LGBTI, Penal Code, prosecution, sexual minorities, Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act, sexual orientation, Tanzania, unnatural offence, violence 6 Comments
Author: Daniel Marari
LLM, International Human Rights Law, Lund University, Sweden
Although the Tanzanian Constitution (1977) guarantees the right to equality and prohibits discrimination based on gender and sex, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people still face deeply rooted hostility, prejudice and widespread discrimination in the Tanzanian society. Threats of criminal penalty, social exclusion, harassment and violence make it particularly unsafe for one to come out as an LGBT person.
At present, certain homosexual acts between consenting adult males are criminalized under the Penal Code (Chapter 16 of the laws). Under section 154 of the Penal Code, committing or attempting to commit “unnatural offences” are crimes punishable with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and twenty years’ imprisonment, respectively. “Unnatural offence” is defined as (1) sexual intercourse with any person “against the order of nature” as well as (2) consensual sexual intercourse between a man and man or woman “against the order of nature”. The words “against the order of nature” are not statutorily defined. Also, under section 157 of the Penal Code, it is an offence punishable with a maximum of five years imprisonment for any male person, whether in public or private, to commit an act of gross indecency with another male person. By section 3 of the Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act, “gross indecency” is defined as “any sexual act that is more than ordinary but falls short of actual intercourse and may include masturbation and indecent physical contact or indecent behavior without any physical contact”. Consent is no defense to any of these offences and no distinction regarding age is made in the text of the law. As the consequence of the existence of these laws criminalizing private consensual homosexual acts, LGBT people in Tanzania live in psychological stress and unceasing fear of prosecution and imprisonment.
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