International human rights advocacy and the abolition of irreducible life imprisonment in ZimbabwePosted: 13 September, 2016 Filed under: Andrew Novak | Tags: Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe, Death Penalty Project, domestic law, European Court of Human Rights, foreign jurisprudence, global jurisprudenc, human rights, international death penalty litigation, international human rights norms, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, Justice Bharat Patel, law reform, life without parole, Makoni v. Commissioner of Prisons, parole, Prisons Act, rehabilitative criminal sentences, South African Constitutional Court, Supreme Court of Namibia, Tendai Biti, transnational human rights, transnational human rights advocates, Veritas Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Leave a comment
Author: Andrew Novak
Adjunct Professor of Criminology, Law, and Society at George Mason University
On July 13, 2016, the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe (ConCourt) found that life imprisonment without the possibility of parole was unconstitutional as it violated the rights to equal protection and human dignity and the prohibition on cruel and degrading punishment. The decision, Makoni v. Commissioner of Prisons, is undoubtedly a victory for human rights, due to the dismal state of prison conditions in Zimbabwe and the emotional and psychological harm caused by indeterminate sentences. In its decision, the ConCourt cited a wide range of jurisprudence from foreign and international courts, including the European Court of Human Rights, South African Constitutional Court, Supreme Court of Namibia, and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London to discern a global trend toward rehabilitative criminal sentences. Many of these foreign and international legal sources were brought to the ConCourt’s attention by transnational human rights lawyers themselves in their Heads of Argument, underscoring the important role that advocates play in the diffusion of international human rights norms.
Of Tanzania’s cybercrimes law and the threat to freedom of expression and informationPosted: 25 May, 2015 Filed under: Daniel Marari | Tags: African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights, bloggers, criminal, Cybercrimes Bill, cyberlaw, democracy, democratic society, digital communication, electronic communications, European Court of Human Rights, European Union, freedom of expression, freedom of expression and information, human rights, human rights abuses, human rights defenders, information, international treaties, Jakaya Kikwete, journalists, privacy, right to privacy, Tanzania, Tanzanian Constitution, Universal Declaration for Human Rights 4 Comments
Author: Daniel Marari
LLM, International Human Rights Law, Lund University, Sweden
On May 8th, 2015 a press release revealed that the Tanzanian President, Jakaya Kikwete, has signed the controversial Cybercrimes Bill which seeks to criminalize acts related to computer systems and information and communication technologies and to provide for a system of investigation, collection and use of electronic evidence. The said law has serious implications for constitutional and international human rights, particularly freedom of expression and information online and the right to privacy. The most controversial provisions relate to criminalization of sharing of information, extensive police powers of search and seizure, surveillance without judicial authorization as well numerous vaguely defined offences.
It is important to note that that freedom of expression is one of the fundamental aspects of human life. As human beings, we need freedom to develop and share thoughts or ideas about things that happen and influence the way we live. Freedom of opinion, expression and information encourages free debate and plurality of ideas which is important for development of any society. More importantly, these rights are internationally recognised human rights. They are engrained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (art.19), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 (art.19) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights 1981 (art.9), all of which have been ratified by Tanzania.