Promoting Human Rights and rule of law in Southern Africa

Dear Reader,

Earlier this month, SALC released the report, “Positive Reinforcement: Advocating for International Criminal Justice in Africa”. That the site of international criminal justice in recent years – whether through the operations of the International Criminal Court (ICC) or through attempts to enforce universal jurisdiction laws – has been almost exclusively in Africa has inspired much critical debate.
Some of that criticism, insisting that the predominant Africa-focus is rooted in disregard and double-standards, is warranted. But what is often obscured in the debate is the extent to which Africa has and will define the discipline. In international criminal justice, Africa is not the periphery but its centre. There can be no doubt that the manner in which the ICC manages the indictments of recently elected Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto will be critical to the ICC’s long-term survival and the legitimacy it is accorded.
These issues align with larger debates: Mahmood Mamdani has recently written, in the context of South Africa, but which is no less true of the global political and legal order, of the “need to create an inclusive political order as the basis of an inclusive rule of law.”
Positive Reinforcement references many of these debates and themes but its principal objective is to showcase the efforts made by civil society across Africa in making international criminal justice a domestic and regional reality. Below, you can read more about the report and other developments at SALC.

Nicole Fritz
May 2013


Mail and Guardian and Others v Chipu and Others

SALC was admitted as amicus curiae, "friend of the court" in Mail and Guardian and Others v Chipu and Others, which was heard in the Constitutional Court of South Africa on 14 May 2013. The Constitutional Court addressed whether the provision providing for absolute confidentiality of proceedings at the Refugee Appeal Board was constitutional. SALC's written and oral submissions contended that while confidentiality is necessary in order to protect vulnerable refugees, a system of absolute confidentiality may have the consequence of shielding controversial decisions from accountability. SALC argued that in limited instances absolute confidentiality may frustrate the broader purposes of refugee law and South Africa's obligation to ensure perpetrators of international crimes do not escape justice. 

Read more

Mwanza and Another v Attorney General 

On 3 December 2012, the High Court in Zambia heard initial evidence in Mwanza and Another v Attorney General, a case challenging poor prison conditions and the lack of adequate food provided to HIV-positive prisoners on treatment in the Lusaka Central Prison. The Court heard the first petitioner's testimony and then postponed the case to 11 September 2013. The case is being brought by the Legal Resources Foundation with the support of SALC and the Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign (TALC).


Ramoge and Others v Attorney General 

SALC is supporting a case in Botswana before the High Court challenging the refusal by the Director of the Department of Civil and National Registration to register the organisation, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), on the basis that the Botswana Constitution does not recognise the rights of homosexuals. LEGABIBO aims to provide lesbians, gays and bisexuals (LGB) with information on human rights and to empower LGB persons to advocate for their rights, particularly the right to access to health services. The case is brought by the founding members of LEGABIBO, who are represented by Unity Dow. In March 2013 the applicants filed papers, and on 8 April 2013 a press conference took place in Gaborone to highlight the important rights underpinning the case. The hearing is expected to commence in August 2013.

The People v Paul Kasonkomona

SALC is supporting a case before the Zambia Magistrate's Court challenging the arrest of Paul Kasonkomona, an HIV activist, who was arrested after he appeared on television arguing that the rights of sexual minorities should be recognised in order to effectively address the HIV epidemic. Kasonkomona was charged with violating section 178(g) of the Zambian Penal Code which provides that “every person who in any public place solicits for immoral purposes” is deemed an idle and disorderly person, and liable to imprisonment for one month or to a fine. A civil action for unlawful arrest was filed shortly after Kasonkomona’s arrest. Kasonkomona’s legal representative further filed a constitutional application challenging the prosecution’s failure to provide the defence with evidence prior to the trial, as well as the constitutionality of section 178(g). The prosecution will respond to the constitutional application on 4 June 2013.

Read more.

Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa v President of South Africa and Others

On 17 May 2013, the South Gauteng High Court heard final arguments in Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa v President of the Republic of South Africa and Others. SALC has been supporting the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA), who are seeking a judicial review of the decision to grant refugee status to Rwandan Genderal Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa on the ground that he is, in terms of refugee law, ineligible due to his alleged involvement in the commission of war crimes. The Judge has reserved judgment.


Masupha v Senior Resident Magistrate for the Subordinate Court of Berea and Others

On 16 May 2013, the High Court in Lesotho, sitting as the Constitutional Court, issued judgment in Masupha v Senior Resident Magistrate for the Subordinate Court of Berea and Others, a case challenging the constitutionality of section 10 of the Chieftainship Act which provides only for male succession to chieftainship. The Court upheld section 10 on the basis that it is a restatement of the customary law rules of succession in Lesotho, which though discriminatory are justified under the Lesotho Constitution.

Read the judgment here


SALC Hosts Sensitisation Meeting for Parliamentarians on Cervical Cancer 

On 1 March 2013, SALC and the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum hosted a sensitisation meeting on the availability of cervical cancer services in southern Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa. The meeting was attended by members of parliament from the Southern African Development Community. The main objective was to increase cervical cancer awareness among parliamentarians in order to enable them to advocate for better access to cervical cancer services in their countries.

Read more.

SALC Challenges the Botswana Public Health Bill

On 27 March 2013, the Botswana Parliament passed the controversial Public Health Bill which contains various provisions which potentially infringe human rights. SALC, the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA), the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) and the Open Society Institute of Southern Africa (OSISA) lobbied the Botswana Parliament to amend the controversial bill. The organisations called for public participation and expert input into this important piece of legislation. After the Bill was passed, BONELA together with SALC and other partners in the region wrote a letter to the President of Botswana requesting that he refer the Bill back to Parliament instead of signing it into law.

Read more.


SALC Releases Report on Civil Society and International Criminal Justice in Africa  

SALC is pleased to share its latest publication, Positive Reinforcement – Advocating for International Criminal Justice in Africa. The report, which is both substantive and practical, highlights the role and potential of civil society in securing principled support for international criminal law in southern Africa and Africa. It highlights the challenges that African civil society organisations face and demonstrates how these can be overcome both domestically and regionally. It seeks to be a resource, guide and advocacy tool and encourage African civil society, through the use of case studies, to take ownership of international criminal justice issues. It is hoped that this report will serve as a catalyst for the development of further national and regional strategies that will see southern African and African civil society organisations acting in concert to address impunity of perpetrators of international crimes.
Download the report here


Confidentiality in a Constitutional Democracy- A Fine Line between Disclosure and Deference 

Both Mail and Guardian and Others v Chipu and Others and Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa v President of the Republic of South Africa and Others are concerned with the issue of confidentiality in the asylum application process – seemingly cases with a rather narrow application. However, this analysis examines how the unintended effect confidentiality can have by shielding official decisions from scrutiny relates to broader concerns.

Read more.

News You May Have Missed!

Krejcir Appeal Tests Rights of Refugees

Lesotho Denies Women Right to be Chiefs

Paul Kasonkomona Fights for Fair Trial

Concourt Reserves Judgment on Media's Access to Krejcir Hearing

Africa: Civil Society's Role in International Criminal Law

Fighting for Recognition in Botswana 

LEGABIBO Appeals to High Court 

Arrest of Activist Amid Anti-Gay Rhetoric

SALC, OSISA Demand Release of Kasonkomona

LEGABIBO Challenges Refusal to Register Organisation

Botswana’s Health Bill Worries Regional Rights Body

Beatrice Mtetwa’s Arrest Shows All is Not Well in Zim

Zambian Inmates Denied ARVs, Court Told 

Zambia Court Told HIV Prisoners Denied Drugs, Proper Food

Two HIV-Positive Men Take on Zambia Government over Prison Conditions

South Africa Rejects Silva for Deputy Ambassadorship?

LTTE Lobby Pressures South Africa to Reject Deputy HC Shavendra Silva

SADC Tribunal Paid the Price for Threatening States’ Authority

How Zimbabwean’s Land Case Ended up in South Africa’s Legal System

South Africa Must Come Clean on Extralegal Renditions

The South African Courtrooms’ Zimbabwean Problem

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