JIFA Newsletter #5   August 2017

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September 2017 - Introduction to Human Rights
Zambia’s highest court takes stand on human rights
By Carmel Rickard
In a major human rights decision, Zambia's highest court has declared that the government's deportation of a prominent industrialist was unlawful, and that his treatment by the authorities had been 'high-handed' and a flagrant breach of his human rights.
The decision is particularly significant for several reasons. The Minister of Home Affairs who authorised the 2012 deportation was Edgar Lungu, now President of Zambia. Lungu has been strongly criticised for being behind a number of deportations carried out during his term as Minister of Home Affairs, and his critics will now have the weight of the courts behind them as they challenge Lungu's continuing, dubious human rights record.
Human Rights Commission on judgment by Equality Court on UIF benefits for asylum seeker
SAHRC Equality Court ruling protecting rights of asylum seeker
The South African Human Rights Commission (the SAHRC or Commission) welcomes a judgment handed down by the Equality Court at the Vereeniging Magistrate’s Court in favour of an asylum seeker, who had approached the Commission for relief.
The complainant alleged that the Department of Labour refused to pay him his Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) benefits because he is an asylum seeker. The respondent, the Department of Labour, claimed that the Department’s computer system does not allow them to process payment to asylum seekers as the computer system only accepts the 13 digit identity number of South Africans citizens.
Three Decades On, the Protection of Human Rights in Africa Comes of Age?
Chidi Anselm Odinkalu analyses the evolution of the African Commission of Human and People’s Rights since its inception.
When the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights convened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 2 November 1987, as the continent’s pioneer regional human rights oversight institution, few thought of it as anything other than a plaything of the continent’s big men.
The pioneer Chair of the Commission was the personal lawyer to Gabon’s long-serving President, Omar Bongo. His Vice was a senior Egyptian Ambassador. The rest of the Commission was made of the Interior Ministers to Congo’s President Sassou Nguesso and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and Mali’s Foreign Minister; three very senior judges from Botswana, Senegal and Tanzania respectively, a law professor from Nigeria and two other lawyers from Uganda and Zambia. The only woman was Mrs Esther Tchouta-Moussa, the pioneer Secretary of the Commission borrowed from the Secretariat of the AU’s predecessor, Organisation of African Unity (OAU), where she worked as Legal Adviser.
Case Summary
The facts:
On 31 March 2017, the President of the Republic of South Africa sacked the then Minister and Deputy Minister of Finance (Mr. Pravin Gordhan and Mr. Mcebisi Jonas). Soon after the dismissals, South Africa’s economy was downgraded to a sub-investment grade or “junk status”. This prompted the applicant and two other political parties (Democratic Alliance [DA] and Economic Freedom Fighters [EFF]) to call on the 1st respondent to schedule a motion of no confidence in the President. The motion was scheduled for 18 April 2017. Before the date for the motion, the applicant requested the 1st respondent, through a letter dated 6 April 2017, to prescribe secret ballot as the voting procedure for the motion. In its letter, the applicant conceded that there was no express provision in the Rules of the National Assembly on secret ballot for such motion. However, the applicant contended that some direction could be found through a combined reading of sections 57 and 86(2), item 6(a) Part A of Schedule 3 to the Constitution and rule 2 of the Rules of the National Assembly. The 1st respondent refused the applicant’s request. She argued that the Constitution and the Rules of the National Assembly that regulate voting procedures in the National Assembly do not make provisions for secret ballot as the voting procedure for the motion.
Regional judges meet to promote law as a tool to strengthen the HIV response in Africa
High and Supreme Court judges from across Africa gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa this week for an annual forum to share experiences, compare cases across different jurisdictions, learn about the latest medical and science developments, and discuss ways to advance the use of law as a tool to respond to the HIV epidemic.
The three-day Africa Regional Judges Forum on HIV, Human Rights and the Law was attended by nearly 50 participants, including 30 judges from 16 countries, and was organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the Africa Regional Grant on HIV: Removing Legal Barriers.
The forum was established by a group of judges in 2014 following the release of the report of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, an independent body convened by UNDP which examined links between legal environments and HIV responses. The annual meetings are owned and planned by the judges themselves.
JIFA, A joint initiative of the Democratic Governance and Rights Unit, University of Cape Town, ICJ-Africa and The Southern African Chief Justices' Forum