Quote of the week

Although judicial proceedings will generally be bound by the requirements of natural justice to a greater degree than will hearings before administrative tribunals, judicial decision-makers, by virtue of their positions, have nonetheless been granted considerable deference by appellate courts inquiring into the apprehension of bias. This is because judges ‘are assumed to be [people] of conscience and intellectual discipline, capable of judging a particular controversy fairly on the basis of its own circumstances’: The presumption of impartiality carries considerable weight, for as Blackstone opined at p. 361 in Commentaries on the Laws of England III . . . ‘[t]he law will not suppose possibility of bias in a judge, who is already sworn to administer impartial justice, and whose authority greatly depends upon that presumption and idea’. Thus, reviewing courts have been hesitant to make a finding of bias or to perceive a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of a judge, in the absence of convincing evidence to that effect.

L'Heureux-Dube and McLachlin JJ
Livesey v The New South Wales Bar Association [1983] HCA 17; (1983) 151 CLR 288
23 June 2008

This is Zimbabwe today

A chilling eye witness account about Zanu-PF “electioneering” published in the London Times:

Last weekend we had a big pungwe – a political indoctrination meeting – on the farm. It was after Mugabe had come to our little town of Chegutu, southwest of Harare, and addressed the crowd with threats of “war”. A pungwe starts when the shadows lengthen and the sun goes down and darkness falls over the land. It does not stop till after the sun has risen again. All our workers had to go, as well as all their wives with babies and any children over the age of 12. Some of them didn’t go; so the mob sent little bands of chanting youth militia with sticks to fetch the absentees, drag them out of their houses and beat them for non-attendance.

Through the night we heard the chanting and the slogans and the re-education speeches ringing out into the cold darkness for hour after hour after hour. On and on it went, striking fear into my heart. I got up and paced around in the cold night, listening.

When the first birds began to sing, I thought: “How can these birds sing after such a night as this?” Then the birdsong was drowned out. There was a terrible noise like a swarm of bees. I knew the beatings had begun again and I listened helpless, tormented, in fear but praying fervently.

Does one really want to form a government of national unity with such people? Does one have any other choice?

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