It’s official: The East African Court of Justice can now adjudicate human rights casesPosted: 1 February, 2016 Filed under: Ally Possi | Tags: African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights, Appellate Division, EAC, EAC Member States, EACJ, East African Community, East African Court of Justice, First Instance Division, human rights jurisdiction, rule of law, Vienna Convention 4 Comments
Author: Ally Possi
Lecturer, Law School of Tanzania; Advocate of the High Court of Tanzania
The legitimacy of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) to adjudicate human rights cases has been a debatable aspect ever since the Court’s inception. Articles 6(d) and 7(2) of the East African Community (EAC) Treaty mention human rights, which ordinarily the EACJ is mandated to interpret. However, article 27(2) of the Treaty implies to suspend what seems to be a legitimate human rights authority of the Court. Consequently, articles 6(d), 7(2) and 27(2) have made litigants, legal scholars and even EACJ judges to be at cross-roads with respect to EACJ’s human rights jurisdiction.
The recent decision in Democratic Party v. The Secretary General of the EAC, Appeal No. 1 of 2014 (Democratic Party case) will make the functioning of the EACJ rather interesting within the near future. In that case, the EACJ unequivocally held that it has ‘jurisdiction to interpret the Charter [African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights herein the African Charter] in the context of the [EAC] Treaty.’ This lining of the decision becomes more authoritative as it is from the Appellate Division section of the Court.
Rising against the silencing of the SADC Tribunal: TanzaniaPosted: 5 June, 2015 Filed under: Gertrude Mafoa Quan | Tags: democracy, dispute settlement, good governance, human rights, human rights violations, inter-State disputes, President Jakaya Kikwet, Protocol on the SADC Tribunal, rule of law, Rulings of the Tribunal, SADC, SADC Treaty, SADC Tribunal, South African community, Tanzania, watchdog Leave a comment
Author: Gertrude Mafoa Quan
Candidate Attorney; LLM (Multidisciplinary Human Rights) student at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
‘We have created a monster that will devour us all’.
These were the words of Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete regarding the SADC Tribunal. This is at best an expression that is the epitome of the fear of SADC leaders of an existing and functioning Tribunal.
Like in many other regions, the SADC tribunal served as the mechanism through which the region’s dispute could be settled. One of the goals of the treaty was to establish a tribunal (which it did) and that the “[t]ribunal shall be constituted to ensure the adherence to and the proper interpretation of the provisions of this Treaty and subsidiary instruments and to adjudicate upon such disputes as may be referred to it” ( SADC Treaty, 1992, Article 16.1). Perhaps one of its most striking promises was in Article 4(c) which bluntly states that ‘ SADC and its Member States shall act in accordance with the principles of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law’. The implication is that all member States could indeed be held accountable should any of the said principles in Article 4(c) be violated. According to the Protocol on the SADC Tribunal, subject to the exhaustion of local remedies, all companies and individuals may approach the Tribunal to seek remedy if and when a member State has infringed on their rights (Article 15).
Factors inhibiting the identification and investigation of human trafficking casesPosted: 20 February, 2015 Filed under: Monique Emser | Tags: child trafficking, human trafficking, Human Trafficking Awareness Index report, law enforcement, LexisNexis, rule of law, South Africa, victim identification Leave a comment
Author: Monique Emser
Research Associate, Department of Criminal and Medical Law, University of the Free State, South Africa
World Day of Social Justice – Ending human trafficking and forced labour: 20 February 2015
Law enforcement efforts have failed to keep pace with the mutable phenomenon of human trafficking despite the fact that it is regarded as the fastest growing and second most profitable criminal enterprise after drug trafficking.
The biggest challenge facing law enforcement in human trafficking cases is finding victims and their traffickers in the first place, since human trafficking involves the movement and concealment of victims.
Victims of human trafficking often do not self-identify as such. There are numerous reasons for this. Some victims may have consciously engaged in illicit activities, such as undocumented migration into the Republic or engaging in sex work. In such cases, ‘victims are unlikely to report their victimisation to the police or seek help from service providers.’ Where trafficking occurs within diaspora communities, self-identification and reporting to the police are even lower.
Others are too traumatised by their experiences and remain in denial. Distrust of law enforcement, fear of retaliation by traffickers, a lack of understanding of basic rights, are further inhibiting factors in relation to victim cooperation and investigation.
Love in a Time of Ebola: Africa deserves a human rights determinationPosted: 6 November, 2014 Filed under: Humphrey Sipalla | Tags: Africa, African Charter, African Commission, African Court, AU Human Rights Strategy, Ebola, Guinea, human rights, International Health Regulations, Liberia, outbreak, rule of law, Sierra Leone, United Nations, West Africa, WHO, World Health Organisation 1 Comment
Author: Humphrey Sipalla
When the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared “a public health emergency of international concern” in the three fragile West African states of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the walls fast closed on them and their peoples. Flight bans, citizen entry bans and ripple effects on trade have been announced by African countries, as well as globally. So severe have been the restrictions that vital energy and food supplies have dwindled, with riots breaking out in some areas. The affected countries have pleaded with “the world” to not inflict collective punishment on their populations, and indeed future.
These real world events have grounding in probably the most innocuously titled yet powerful treaty in the world. Nope, not the UN Charter, not the Geneva or Vienna Conventions… the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005). Usually, ‘regulations’ is legalese for subsidiary legislation. But these regulations treat probably the most incendiary issues in human society: infectious diseases and legality, if not morality of mitigating actions.
The IHR’s aim to provide maximum protection from the international spread of infectious diseases while causing minimal harm to global travel and commerce. It originates from the 1892 International Sanitary Convention that sought to control the spread of cholera in the Suez Canal, providing for coercive ship inspections and quarantines.
It may well be said that the Achilles-like duality of IHR, its true power and weakness, lies not in legal theory but sheer human behaviour. Infectious diseases are frightening. They compound the unknown and bring out the worst elements of our self-preservation instinct. Prior to the 2005 revision, states like India and Peru sat on critical information about disease outbreaks to avoid the punishing reactions of other states. Given the treatment of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, one wonders what exactly has changed in the real world.
In the absence of democratic principles, tyranny reignsPosted: 23 September, 2014 Filed under: Thato Motaung | Tags: autocracy, constitution, democracy, Eritrea, freedom, International Day of Democracy, national service, rule of law, tyranny 3 Comments
Author: Thato Motaung
Researcher, Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria
International Day of Democracy: 15 September 2014
“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” – William Wilberforce
When the world celebrated the International Day of Democracy (15 September 2014), I reminded myself of some of the key tenets of democracy, namely: free and fair elections, the rule of law, the upholding of fundamental rights and freedoms — to name but a few. The mention of the rule of law in particular raised red flags in my mind as I pondered where to place Eritrea when choosing between definitions of democracy and autocracy.
The rule of law and the respect for human rights stand as prerequisites to realising democratic statehood. The laws which govern a state are enshrined in a constitution; a constitution sets the parameters for lines that cannot be crossed; the principles by which a state should conduct itself. Where then does one begin to place or reference these barriers in a country with no constitution? Who has legitimacy in decision-making? What legal standards are used? The lines continue to blur…
The jeopardy of rule of law; democracy; separation of power and fundamental human rights in SwazilandPosted: 14 May, 2014 Filed under: Njiti Lucius Batty | Tags: Bheki Makubhu, Centre for Human Rights, freedom of expression, freedom of media, National Magazine Editor, right to bail, right to liberty, right to work, rule of law, separation of power, Swaziland, Thulani Maseko, wrongful arrests 1 Comment
Author: Njiti Lucius Batty
Candidate Advocate, High Court of Tanzania; Tutorial Assistant and Coordinator, University of Dodoma Law Society & Moot Court, Tanzania
Swaziland is the only absolute and pure monarchical country in Africa and has no multi-party system and Ingenyama, the King himself enjoys absolute powers over the executive and he is assisted by the traditional prime minister and official prime minister.
This article portrays the real story on the way rule of law; democracy; separation of power and fundamental human rights in Swaziland are at risk.
In January 2014, Bhantshana Gwebu, the Government Chief Vehicle Inspector of Swaziland was arrested basing on the reason that Gwebu had stopped the vehicle which chauffeured Esther Ota, one of the judges of High Court in the land.
This incidence instigated the minds of both Thulani Maseko, human rights lawyer, activist & the alumnus of the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria in South Africa and Bheki Makubhu, the National Magazine Editor who published the article in National Magazine criticising the whole matter of arresting Gwebu. The article stated only the truth that the Vehicle Inspector was implementing his official roles thus it was unbecoming to arrest him and it was unconstitutional. And no one is above the law and for this case respect of traffic laws had to be followed.
Owing to that article, Maseko and Makhubu were arrested on March 18, 2014 and detained in custody for 20 days as result of the arrest warrant issued by the Chief Justice of Swaziland, Michael Ramodibedi who is also a judge in Lesotho.
Chapter 9 institutions: for the sake of accountability and constitutional democracyPosted: 31 March, 2014 Filed under: Kenneth Sithebe | Tags: accountability, Chapter 9 institutions, constitution, constitutional democracy, corruption, democracy, good governance, human rights, investigate, Nkandla, President Zuma, Public Protector, rule of law, South Africa Leave a comment
Author: Kenneth Sithebe
Candidate Attorney, Centre for Child Law, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria
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.
Drawing lessons from the protection of taxpayers’ rights in EuropePosted: 13 November, 2013 Filed under: Eric Ntini Kasoko | Tags: Africa, African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights, citizens, Court of Justice, Economic Community of West African, Europe, European Court of Justice, European Court on Human Rights, fundamental rights and freedoms, human rights, international human rights law, investments, law, right to property, rule of law, tax, tax legislation, taxpayers, The National Co-ordinating Group of Departmental Representatives of the Cocoa-Coffee Sector v Côte d’Ivoire Leave a comment
Author: Eric Ntini Kasoko
PhD candidate, University of Liege (Belgium)
“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.
Corruption in Ethiopia: Causes and remediesPosted: 4 July, 2013 Filed under: Daniel Behailu Geberamanuel | Tags: Africa, constitution, corruption, credibility, EPRDF, Ethiopia, Federal Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission of Ethiopia, Global Financial Integrity, human rights, independent judiciary, press freedom, rule of law, separation of power, seperation of power 7 Comments
Author: Daniel Behailu Geberamanuel
PhD student at Law Faculty of Giessen University, Germany
It is often heard (from all concerned) that corruption levels in Africa and particularly in Ethiopia are of concern. Corruption is not only a violation of law and order, but a massive cause for the exacerbation of poverty already entrenched in the society. It frustrates any genuine effort exerted towards societal and economic development both by the government and the people. The ill sides of corruption are not to be undermined nor should efforts to fight it be played up as a political game just to prolong the life of a specific regime posing as the “good guy”. The fight against corruption must not be a tactical step for public attention and a ploy to win the sympathy of people. The fight against corruption by all Ethiopian stakeholders should investigate the root causes of corruption to address the problem sustainably for the following reasons: Ethiopia is cultivating tens and thousands of graduates from universities and technical colleges every year and the lack of jobs is becoming a serious concern.
According to a report by Global Financial Integrity, Ethiopia lost close to $12 billion since 2000 to illicit financial outflows. This is simply disaster in the making. The government must be serious in its fight against corruption because the government’s credibility and whatever level of legitimacy it might have been commanding is put to question. Therefore, in the government cadres’ language, “fighting corruption ought to be a survival issue”.
Every time I hear of anti-corruption efforts in my country, my pain is immense and is summed up by a phrase in the Amharic language “sedo masaded”, roughly translated as “trying to arrest after cutting lose”; the question is why “cut lose”? Why not fix the fence? Why not shut the door to thieves and the corrupt? The question for all of us is how to secure the house. The solution lies in “institutionalising the rule of law”; subsequently, if anyone subverts the system, all due processes of the law must ensue and no one should be considered or consider themselves above the law.
Xenophobia in South Africa: The time for introspection has comePosted: 13 June, 2013 Filed under: Josua Loots | Tags: Africa, African Union, apartheid, constitution, foreign nationals, human rights, mob violence, rule of law, SAPS, South Africa, South African Constitution, xenophobia, xenophobic violence 9 Comments
Author: Josua Loots
Project Manager, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
Xenophobia, just like so many other unsettling issues in South Africa, is gradually becoming part of the way in which we are perceived as a society. The newest upsurge in xenophobic violence clearly indicates that we have not made significant progress since the problem surfaced in 2008. More unsettling however, is the unwillingness of South Africans from all levels of society to acknowledge and address the problem – media houses neglect to conduct in-depth investigations, politicians fail to express their concern over the issue, the South African Police Service controversially fuels public perception through its involvement in incidents regarding foreign nationals, and civilians exercise mob executions with self-righteousness and pride.
The South African Constitution offers protection to citizens and non-citizens, and is one of few constitutions in the world that indisputably does so. The preamble of the Constitution reiterates South Africa’s commitment to uphold the rule of law, and this commitment greatly depends on consistent application of the law in South Africa. It is imperative that South Africans understand that our own claims on the protection of and rights entrenched in the Constitution depend on respecting the rights of others. Arbitrary mob killings of foreign nationals during the past five years suggest that South Africans struggle to come to terms that all people are equal before the law. Allegations of foreign nationals being involved in criminal activities often lead to mob justice, which is a dangerous step towards corroding the rule of law, and eventually the Constitution upon which our society so greatly depends.