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December 2014 Newsletter
 
SECRETARIAT NEWS

Regional Conference on the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communication Procedure (OP3CRC)

PALU participated at the aforementioned meeting, which was held from 5 to 6 November 2014, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Conference aimed at raising awareness and improving understanding on the 3rd Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its communications procedure. Participants had the opportunity to explore how the Protocol complements regional human rights mechanisms in Africa, especially the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, highlighting the positive implications for children. Panelists further presented experiences from different countries on the ratification of the Protocol and what added value can this bring to the realization of children’s rights in a specific country.

Click here to read the full text of the Protocol.

PALU Mission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The PALU Secretariat undertook a three week mission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 15 November to 5 December 2014. The activities PALU undertook were held on the sidelines of the 35th Ordinary Session of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The activities in Addis were as follows:
  • A training on litigation procedures for the staff of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Banjul Commission): As part of its strategic goal to develop a competent, effective and independent legal profession in Africa, PALU, with the support of the German International Cooperation (GIZ), facilitated a litigation training and exchange for legal officers of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. The training exchange which took place from 16 to 20 November 2014 was aimed at increasing the core litigation skills of the Commission to enable increased referral/ transfer of cases from the Commission to the Court under their shared complementarity regime. The training focused on litigation procedures and strategies before African International Courts, with a special focus on litigation at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The training included modules on case preparation, evidence collection, handling sexual assault cases, taking statements, legal research, witness preparation, examination in Chief and cross-examination, written and oral advocacy, opening and closing statements, as well as preliminary objections and interlocutory motions. Furthermore, an overview was given on litigation at the African Court, as well as rules and emerging jurisprudence of the Court. The Commissioners who took part in the training exchange were as follows:
    Comm. Lucy ASUAGBOR; Comm. Maya Sahli FADEL; Comm. Soyata MAIGA, Comm. Lawrence Murugu MUTE and Comm. Pansy TLAKULA. The Commissioners Exchange included discussions on the African Governance Architecture (AGA) and its Human Rights Cluster, on salient aspects of the complementarity regime between the African Court and the African Commission as well as discussion on strategic litigation and enforcement of decisions by judicial and semi-judicial institutions. The exchange culminated with mapping of opportunities for legal and policy orientation.
  • Organized an interactive dialogue under the theme “Pan African Lawyers Union and the Development of law in Africa: Opportunities and Benefits for African Lawyers”. The meeting introduced the programs and professional services of PALU to Ethiopian lawyers and the International legal community in Addis Ababa. The discussions also focused on the developments of law in Africa and the benefits and opportunities that this presents for African lawyers.
  • Engaged in litigation at the African Court in the cases:
  1. Application 006/12 – African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights v Kenya (the Ogiek case), as Co-Counsel. Click here for the official press release;
  2. Application 005/13 – Alex Thomas v the United Republic of Tanzania, representing the Applicant. Click here for the official press release;
  3. As amici curiae in Application 04/2013: Konaté v Burkina Faso. Click here for the official press release on the landmark ruling and here for the judgement (only available in French).
To read more about the cases you can visit our Cases page here.

Other meetings PALU took part in:
  • “African Geographies of Justice – The African Court and Heads of State Immunity Question”, organized by the Institute for Security Studies on 20 and 21 November 2014. During the meeting Mr. Donald Deya, the CEO of PALU, discussed the Legal and Political History of the AU Criminal Chamber Protocol and the Drafting History of the Crimes that are included in the Protocol.
  • Presentation on the "African Continental Justice System, the 35th Ordinary Session of the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Malabo Protocol”, during the monthly meeting of the EU informal human rights working group on 26 November 2014.
For more information please contact secretariat@lawyersofafrica.org.

Meeting on Decriminalization and Declassification of Petty Offences in Africa

PALU has recently become involved in an international campaign that seeks to decriminalize and declassify petty offences across Africa. Criminalization and penalization of petty offences is rampant across Africa. A lot of these laws emanated from the colonial era, and were designed to segregate and separate communities for the purposes of oppression and suppression. These laws are usually vaguely drafted, overly broad, and are mostly used to achieve selfish political agenda. Victims of such practices are often subjected to arbitrary arrests, excessive and abusive use of power while in police custody and pre-trial detention. Research in Malawi has shown that offences, such as loitering, are routinely used as a reason to arrest sex workers, the homeless and persons with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities. Such research has been conducted or is in the process in several countries, including Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.

On 8 and 9 December 2014, Civil Society Organizations met for a country specific meeting in Kenya. The aim of the meeting was to foster a broader understanding of current work and existing initiatives being undertaken in Kenya, identify key partners and appropriate modalities that might be used in facilitating change.  The meeting commenced with a regional overview of the problem in Africa and framing the legal reform environment in Kenya, especially through the lenses of the new constitution. It further explored police enforcement of country by laws; justice for key populations and mental health laws in Kenya. Representatives of marginalized groups such as sex workers and street vendors had the opportunity to share their experiences. Ms. Irini Anastassiou from the PALU Secretariat made a presentation on “Strategies and opportunities for engaging the African Human Rights institutions and how work in Kenya might feed into the regional process”.

The meeting resulted in mapping the current opportunities for engagement on this issue and developing an initial implementation plan and timeline in order to create a coherent narrative and broader momentum around the issues.

International Human Rights Day 2014

On 10 December, PALU seized the opportunity to commend the endless efforts of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) and regional human rights bodies in upholding and protecting human rights in Africa.   This year’s theme is “Human rights 365. Human rights 365” instills the notion that each individual regardless of the diverse backgrounds is entitled to the enjoyment of the full and equal range of human rights as stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights every passing day.

PALU also celebrated its achievements in promoting and advancing human and peoples’ rights on the African Continent which can be read in detail here.

PALU endorses to the fullest extent the request made by International Refugee rights Initiative (IRRI) on International Human Rights Day to the Sudanese government to show respect for human rights by releasing Sudanese activists the Government has in detention. Dr Amin Mekki Medani, a Sudanese human rights lawyer, Farouk Abu Isa, the head of the National Consensus Forces, which is an umbrella group of Sudan’s main Opposition Parties, along with Farah Agar, a legal consultant for the Sudan People' Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N).

PALU continues continue to work towards promoting and advancing human and peoples’ rights on the African Continent by working with international organizations, African and International NGOs and all other stakeholders in the field of Human Rights Law in Africa.

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NEWS FROM OTHER ORGANIZATIONS

EALS Appoints New Governing Council and Admits Ethiopian Lawyers

On 14 and 15 November 2014, the East Africa Law Society (EALS) held its 19th Annual Conference and General Meeting. During its AGM, EALS appointed a new Executive Council which consists of Council Members from the constituent law societies of the Regional Bar and Bar Leaders of the six National Bar Associations who sit on the Executive Council as ex-officio members.

PALU congratulates the new Governing Council and applauds the AGM for passing a Resolution to admit Ethiopian lawyers into EALS. Click here for a full list of the incoming governing Council.

The African Court delivers decision on Advisory Opinion submitted on Access to the Court

The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (The Committee) submitted an application for an advisory opinion. The Committee seized the African Court with a request for an advisory opinion under Art. 4(1) of the Court Protocol and Rule 68 of Rules of Court.  The African Court was asked to decide whether under Art. 5 of the Court Protocol, the Committee is among the entities that can bring cases to the African Court

The African Court delivered its Judgement on 5 December at its public hearing held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The African Court decided that although in the interest of protecting children’s rights, it is highly desirable that Committee is given direct access under Art 5 of the Court Protocol, the Court Protocol is clear. The meaning of who can access the court under Art. 5 is clear and unambiguous. The Committee is neither listed nor does it qualify as an intergovernmental organization under Art. 5(3)of the African Court Rules. This cannot be understood to include any other entity that is not included. The Judges unanimously decided that although the Committee can lodge advisory opinions it cannot file cases under Art5 (3) of Protocol.

At the time of print, the full Judgement was not yet available.

For more information on the application you can email the Registrar of the African Court, Dr. Robert Eno at: Registry@african-court.org.  

Obituary Message from C.I.B. and PALU

PALU joins the IPC and the Bar of Kinshasa/Gombe to pay tribute to the Honorary President of the CIB, the Chairman of the Bar of Cote d’Ivoire, Barrister Mamadou Kone, who died on December 9 following a long illness.

It is with profound grief that we are sending our deepest condolences to his family and relatives.

The Establishment and Inauguration of the International Criminal Justice Consortium (ICJC)

The inaugural ceremony of the recently established ICJC was held on 10 December 2014 to coincide with International Human Rights Day. The ICJC is an Independent nonpartisan alliance of international organizations committed to providing comprehensive, practical, and expert support to criminal judicial institutions at the national and international levels. The ICJC’s work is conducted pro bono, driven by the requests and needs of national and international criminal justice institutions (including the International Criminal Court). It provides capacity-building assistance through practical legal skills workshops, sharing of best practices and expertise, and other forms of collaboration.  

The Consortium’s growing membership includes some of the most distinguished rule of law organizations in the world, of which PALU is proud to be a member.

For more information visit the ICJC’s website here.

ICC Renders a Decision on Non-Compliance by Libya


On 10 December 2014, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a finding of non-compliance by the Government of Libya with respect to the non-execution of two requests for cooperation transmitted by the ICC, and decided to refer the matter to the Security Council of the United Nations.

The Chamber found that Libya has failed to comply with the requests by the Court: (i) to surrender Saif Al‑Islam Gaddafi to the Court; and (ii) to return to the Defence of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi the originals of the documents that were seized by the Libyan authorities from the former Defence counsel for Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi in June 2012 in Zintan, and to destroy any copies thereof.

The Chamber stressed that both outstanding obligations are of paramount importance for the exercise by the Court of its functions and powers under the Rome Statute and that the non‑compliance by Libya effectively prevents the Court from fulfilling its mandate, including its duty to protect the rights of the parties and the interests of victims.

The Chamber recognized that throughout the proceedings, Libya demonstrated in several respects its commitment to the Court and made genuine efforts to maintain a constructive dialogue. The Chamber also noted the volatile political and security situation in Libya and stated that it was sensitive to the serious difficulties that Libya is currently facing.

The Chamber emphasized that its decision was only based on the objective failure to obtain cooperation. It was not intended to sanction or criticize Libya but solely to seek the assistance of the Security Council to eliminate the impediments to cooperation.

Decision on the non-compliance by Libya with requests for cooperation by the Court and referring the matter to the United Nations Security Council

Further information on this case is available here.

For further information, please contact Fadi El Abdallah, Spokesperson and Head of Public Affairs Unit, International Criminal Court, by telephone at: +31 (0)70 515-9152 or +31 (0)6 46448938 or by e-mail at: fadi.el-abdallah@icc-cpi.int.

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ADVERTISEMENTS AND VACANCIES

PALU Jobs/Opportunities Board

For more information on the current vacancies you can visit: http://lawyersofafrica.org/jobs-board.

The following vacancies are open:
  • Legal Officer, Portuguese Speaking, P2 African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Closing Date: 10 January 2015).
  • Draper Hills Summer Fellowship on Democracy and Development at Stanford University (Closing 05/01/2015)

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