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March 2015 Newsletter
 

The Headlines

The following are the news stories featured in this issue:
 
Secretariat News
News from Our Members News from Other Organizations Upcoming Events Advertisements and Vacancies
SECRETARIAT NEWS

PALU Joins African CSOs in Nairobi, Kenya to Strategize on the Implementation of the AU/UNECA High Level Panel Report on IFFs from Africa

PALU attended an African Civil Society Organizations (ACSOs)–United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Consultative and Strategy Meeting on Illicit Financial Flows in Africa which took place in Nairobi, Kenya on 18 and 19 February 2015. The meeting was organized by Tax Justice Network Africa (TJN-A) and Action Aid with the main aim of outlining actions to be pursued regarding the AU/UNECA High Level Panel Report on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) from Africa adopted at the 24th AU Summit, in January 2015. The objectives of the meeting were;
  1. To establish a roadmap of how ACSOs can help in the implementation of the Report
  2. To establish a joint CSO advocacy strategy with regard to IFFs in Africa
  3. To discuss how ACSOs can strategically partner with UNECA in implementing the recommendations made in the Report.
ACSOs including Oxfam, PALU, Transparency International, AFRODAD, TWN-A, Trust Africa, EATGN developed a draft action plan for the joint CSO/UNECA advocacy and mobilization activities. They also resolved to develop a final action plan and commence an implementation of the same. PALU continues to commit itself in the wide-range effort to fight IFFs from Africa.

PALU’s Special Tribute to Women

On this year’s International Women’s Day celebrated on 8 March 2015, PALU joined the international community to pay tribute to women. PALU also took the opportunity to advocate for gender equality as well as protection of women and girls’ rights in general. PALU featured several articles from its Members that were prepared in line with this year’s “Make it Happen” theme.

PALU stresses on the importance of everyone’s duty to protect the rights of women and girls regardless of their nationality, gender, educational backgrounds, social class or age. PALU further commends the #HeForShe global campaign which advocates for men’s involvement in addressing gender equity.

Click here to read PALU’s special e-bulletin for the 2015 International Women’s Day

The African Union Commission chairperson H.E. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma also issued a statement on occasion of the International Women’s Day which can be read here.

PALU Elected a Member of ACC Executive Committee


PALU is honored to have been elected into the Executive Committee of the Coalition for an Effective African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Court Coalition (ACC). The nominations and elections of ACC’s new Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, Executive Committee Members as well as new Focal Points took place during the First Colloquium and Third General Assembly of the ACC held on 12 and 13 March 2015, respectively, in Arusha, Tanzania.

The Colloquium was held under the theme “Building the Court we want: Reflecting on Perspectives and Challenges of the Coming African Court with Criminal Jurisdiction.” It sought to take stock of the Coalition’s work since its inception and as well as to raise awareness of the proposed African Court of Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights. In its three (3) years term, PALU will be working alongside eight (8) other organizations elected into the Executive Committee, particularly, as a member of the Legal Affairs Sub-Committee together with the Finance and Administration Sub-Committee.

PALU Receives a Donation from the UNICTR

On 20 March 2015 the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (UNICTR) handed over to PALU a donation of equipment and materials. This followed the authorization by the General Assembly of the United Nations, New York pursuant to PALU’s request for the donation. PALU would like to express its gratitude to the UNICTR for its generosity which will enable us to carry out our mission and reach our goals.
 
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NEWS FROM OUR MEMBERS

PALU Condemns Persecution of its Member in Zimbabwe

PALU and the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) are both highly concerned about the persecution of a law firm run by a PALU Member in Harare, Zimbabwe. The law firm Nyakutombwa and Mugabe Legal Practitioners took on a case for three clients that were being persecuted by the ruling party ZANUPF. After Didymas Mutasa, Rufaro Gumbo and Themba Muriswa (the clients) who were all expelled from the ruling party ZANUPF, they subsequently launched a Constitutional petition at the High Court challenging the unconstitutionality of their expulsion. The State newspaper has since published articles which contained unsubstantiated defaming allegations, attacking the law firm for handling the matter (directed against the above mentioned law firm).

The LSZ, an institutional Member of PALU has condemned the attacks directed at Nyakutombwa and Mugabe Legal Practitioners. His Excellency, President R. G. Mugabe of Zimbabwe (the President) has also declared that Judges should not entertain the case because it is of a political nature and does not concern the Judiciary. Comments by the President have been highly criticized by LSZ condemning them as they appear to undermine the independence of the Judiciary. LSZ welcomed the statements and actions of the Chief Justice of Zimbabwe that sought to bring sobriety to the matter and assert the independence of the judiciary. This has restored the masses’ faith and confidence in the adjudicating arm of the State. Citing United Nation’s principles on the legal profession, LSZ reiterated that lawyers should not be victimized on account of their clients.

PALU calls upon Civil Society Organizations, Non Governmental Organizations and human rights activists based both in Zimbabwe and beyond, to openly criticize actions that victimize lawyers and take up action against such actions.

CBA Holds its General Assembly

The Cameroon Bar Association (CBA), a PALU institutional member held its General Assembly (GA) on 31 January and 1 February 2015 in Yaoundé, Cameroon. During the GA, the CBA conducted Presidential and Bar Council Members elections. Barrister Ngnie Kamga Jackson was elected the Bar’s President and fourteen (14) Bar Council Members were elected for a two (2) years term. The new Bar Council is composed of;
  1. Abdoul Bagui Kari
  2. Memong Phillipe
  3. Tchakoute Patie Charles
  4. Ngoulla Fotso Arlette
  5. Fousse Dominique
  6. Atangana Bikouna Claire
  7. Nah Nah Sylvestre
  8. Kemende Henry
  9. Tassa Andre
  10. Njualem Charles
  11. Mbokeh Divine
  12. Souop Sylvain
  13. Ntoko Justice
  14. Nongzih Anthony
PALU joins the CBA in congratulating the newly elected President and Members of the Bar Council, and wish them a successful term.

PALU is also happy to acknowledge and endorse the election of our Secretary General Abdoul Bagui Kari and our individual members: Ngoulla Fotso Arlette, Souop Sylvain , Memong Phillipe  and Nongzih Anthony.

High Court of Tanzania Delivers a Ruling on the SADC Tribunal Case

The High Court of Tanzania has dismissed preliminary objections raised by the Attorney General (AG) against a case challenging the suspension of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal instituted by Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) which is an institutional Member of PALU. The AG, in his preliminary objections, had contended that the Court has no jurisdiction to entertain issues arising from SADC or its Treaty and that the petition was bad in law for being filed against the provision under Basic Rights and Duties Enforcement Act. In addition to that, the AG asserted that, the petition was frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of court process.

In his reply, the Applicant’s representative submitted that the petition raises serious and important questions regarding the right to access justice and courts of law. In addition, the Counsel contended that the High Court was seized to hear the matter because the petition filed does not challenge the decision of SADC Summit, but rather the government's decision to take part in suspending and or disbandment of the SADC Tribunal, a decision which was unconstitutional.

A panel of three judges ruled that the arguments raised in the matter go to the merits of the case and they found no basis to find that the Court lacked jurisdiction to determine the matter based on alleged contravention of the constitution in relation to the acts or omission of officers on behalf of the state.

Click here for more details of the report on the ruling of the High Court.

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NEWS FROM OTHER ORGANIZATIONS

AIIL Inaugural Ceremony and Training Workshop on BIT and Arbitration

The African Institute of International Law (AIIL) is an independent educational and research institution based in Arusha, Tanzania. The establishment of the AIIL was initiated by the African Foundation for International Law, on the proposal of one of its founder, Judge Abdulqawi A. Yusuf of the International Court of Justice. Following the signing of the Seat Agreement, on 12 March 2013, between the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Tanzania, Hon. B. K. Membe and Rector of AIIL, Ambassador Sani L. Mohamed, the Institute was inaugurated in a ceremony held on 16 February 2015 at the Arusha International Conference Centre in Arusha, Tanzania. The official launch of the Institute was officiated by Hon. Dr. Mahdhi Juma Maalim, MP, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Tanzania. On the sidelines of the inaugural ceremony was a lecture on “The Challenges of Foreign Investment in Africa” and following these events was a one week training workshop on Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT) and Arbitration from 16 to 20 February 2015.

Click here for a detailed summary of the AIIL inaugural ceremony and the training workshop and for more information about AIIL visit their website at www.ail-iadi.org  

EALA Holds its Plenary in Bujumbura, Burundi

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) held its Third Assembly’s Fifth Meeting of the Third Session from 16 to 27 March 2015 in Bujumbura, Burundi. Top on the agenda for the Plenary were the East African Community (EAC) key bills; EAC Customs Management (Amendment) Bill, 2015 the EAC Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2015, the EAC Cross Border Legal Practice Bill, 2014 and the EAC Electronic Transaction Bill, 2014. The House received and debated on a number of Committee reports and moreover it held a meeting to study the amended Rules which were passed at the last sitting in January 2015 in Arusha, Tanzania.

For more information on the Plenary visit their website here.

EACJ Prepares National Court Judges for Regional Duties

The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) has started to train judges from national courts of Partner States in a bid to extend its activities within the region. The training program covers the governing substantive and procedural principles on referring matters to the Regional Court. The EACJ President, Dr Emmanuel Ugirashebuja pointed out that the training program also covers the Civil Society Organizations in a bid to increase awareness on case filing, the procedures and operation of the EACJ to the citizens. The process which started last year with Uganda and Burundi will, in due course, extend to Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya.

More on the report is available on The Citizen newspaper website here.

COMESA Court Relocates to Khartoum, Sudan

The Court of Justice of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA Court of Justice) was established in 1994 pursuant to the COMESA Treaty. Ever since its establishment, the Court has been sitting in Lusaka, Zambia, within the COMESA Secretariat awaiting the construction of its official residence in Khartoum, Sudan. Following the handover of completed and furnished Court premises by the Government of Sudan to COMESA Secretariat in June 2014, COMESA Court of Justice building was officially inaugurated on 5 March 2015 by the Vice President of the Republic of Sudan, His Excellency Dr Hassabo M. A. El-Rahman. The role of the Court is to ensure proper interpretation of the provisions of the COMESA Treaty, to adjudicate upon all disputes between Member States, legal and natural persons within the Common Market.

Click the below links to read COMESA’s press releases;
  1. COMESA Court of Justice Inaugurated in Sudan
  2. COMESA Court Holds First Sitting in Sudan
     
ECOWAS Court of Justice Holds an International Conference

The Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) Court of Justice held a three-day international conference from 18 to 20 March 2015 in Guinea Bissau under the theme “Human rights as a fundamental value of ECOWAS ; an analysis of the jurisprudence of the ECOWAS Court of Justice.” The theme of the conference was discussed under seven sub-themes by the 70 participants that included legal and human rights experts from within and outside the region along with the Judges and Staff of the Registry of the Court. During the discussions, legal and human rights experts proposed measures for improving the efficiency of the ECOWAS Court in implementing its human rights mandate. Among others, experts acknowledged Member States, the ECOWAS Mission and the Court’s responsibilities of ensuring effective human rights protection based on existing international instruments and best practices in order to improve the region’s human rights environment. They also urged Member States to designate a national authority for implementing the decisions of the Court and provide leadership in implementing its decisions.

The ECOWAS Court press release is available here.

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UPCOMING EVENTS

April 7-8: Central, West African Leaders Summit.

April 21-22: IBA LPD Women Business Lawyers Initiative-Inaugural African Program: African Women in Law rising (Men are invited).

April 23-25: International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC) Annual General Meeting.

May 21: 1st Engineering Symposium for Africa

September 15 -18: The South African Labour Law Society (SASLAW) World Labour Law Congress.

ADVERTISEMENTS AND VACANCIES

PALU Jobs/Opportunities Board

The following vacancies are open:
  • Invitation for applications for Foreign Law Clerks at the Constitutional Court of South Africa. Click here for the official call.
  • Human Rights Watch Angola Researcher
  • Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI) Call for Applications: Litigation Workshop
  • Civil Society Prison Reform (CSPRI) Call for Constitutional/ Criminal Law Experts from Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia
For more information on the current vacancies from our members and networks you can visit: http://lawyersofafrica.org/jobs-board

Current opportunities are:
  • Call for registrations: 2015 Africa Forum by ABA Section of International Law on Legal Policy and Framework Surrounding the Energy and Extractive Industries in Africa with focus on East Africa (A discounted rate for PALU paid-up members available)
    Click here  and here for details.
  • West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) 2015 Capacity development course for CSOs

** We would also like to bring you as much news as possible as well as reach out to many more incredible viewers like you. Send us your news, advertisements, job offers etc. to secretariat@lawyersofafrica.org as well as encourage your friends, colleagues and contacts to register for our updates.
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