Quote of the week

The unhappy fact that it is journalists, investigating organs of state and officialdom and the political class and their involvement in corrupt practices to loot the State’s resources, who, by so doing, attract the attention of powerful and influential persons who are capable of suborning the apparatus of the State to smell out their adversaries, cannot be ignored. The examples of abuse of the system have been addressed elsewhere in this judgment. Moreover, the respondents’ perspectives assume that the designated judge is not lied to and is diligent… In my view, in the absence of a rebuttal, this example illustrates a grave vulnerability in RJCA that such an apparent abuse could occur. The common cause examples of blatant lies being told to the designated judge further exacerbates the vulnerability of the system.

Sutherland J
Amabhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism NPC and Another v Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and Others
24 April 2007

African Court still not up and running

The African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights is far from being a reality, Transvaal Judge President Bernard Ngoepe said on Tuesday. According to iafrica website the Court will only be up and running towards the end of the year:

“The court only exists on paper,” said Ngoepe, who is one of the 11 judges from all over Africa sworn in July last year to serve on the court. “There are no premises, no staff, nothing. We had to start from scratch with the budget, which is time consuming,” he said at an Institute of Security Studies seminar in Pretoria.

The interesting question is what is going to happen once the Court starts hearing cases and begins to enforce the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. What happens if that court, for example, hears a case from Doctors for Life about South Africa’s abortion law or the same-sex marriage law?

In the same-sex marriage case the Court said that it would be a perversion of justice if International law is used to limit the rights of South Africans, so this should mean the African Court should not be able to take away existing rights. But a decision of that court could give political impetus to reactionary forces in South Africa and could reopened discussions about controversial matters.

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