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August 2014 Newsletter
 

The Headlines

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

Development of the African Court’s Legal Aid Fund

In April 2014 PALU was assigned a Consultancy by the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights (African Court) to develop its Legal Aid Fund, within the framework of enhancing African citizen’s access to the Court. The Consultancy included drafting of the:
  • Statute on the Establishment of the Legal Aid Fund of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights;
  • Concept Note on Funding Options and Fund-raising Strategy for the African Court’s Legal Aid Fund; and
The Validation workshop:



On 16 and 17 June, PALU, in collaboration with the African Court, organised a validation workshop to consider the draft papers for the Legal Aid Fund with a view of making proposals and recommendations for their improvement and validation.

The workshop was attended by Judges of the African Court as well as representatives of the African Union, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption, the European Union, Bar Associations, universities, civil society and diplomats from Mauritania, Nigeria and Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Following the presentation of the draft papers, participants engaged in a dialogue with PALU and the African Court. Participants approved the documents and gave suggestions that will enrich it. They provided some useful examples and ideas from their own experiences, including from the Inter-American Human Rights System and the Victims’ Trust Fund of the International Criminal Court.

One of the most important outcomes of this workshop was to establish an instrument that is inclusive and offers coherence within the overall African Human Rights architecture by collaborating with all three human rights bodies of the African Union, that is, the Court, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Child Rights Committee. The representatives of the three organs undertook to include this issue in the agenda of their upcoming common meetings.

The Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) holds its Triennial General Assembly (TGA)


The Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) held its Triennial General Assembly (TGA) and Conference, from 5-7 June 2014, at the Yaoundé Conference Centre, in Yaoundé, Cameroon. The TGA and Conference were held under the high patronage of His Excellency Mr. Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroon.

The Conference, graced by the presence of H.E. Mr. Thabo Mbeki, was held under the theme: Illicit Financial Flows from Africa: Sealing the Leaks, Management and Repatriation of Frozen Assets. H.E. Mr. Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa and Chair of the AU-UN High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, delivered the following Keynote Speech.

The Conference culminated in a Communiqué (click here to view), with recommendations towards African Governments, the African Union and its institutions as well as international financial institutions that could contribute to the fight against Illicit Financial Flows. It also recommended further actions to be taken by the Pan African Lawyers Union, including the establishment of a Working Group of Members on IFF from Africa. This working group was established during the Conference and will be led by Barrister Akere T. Muna, the outgoing president of PALU and a member of the AU-UN High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa.

During the Conference, an Award for the Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts was given to the President of Cameroon, H.E Mr. Paul Biya, who was honored for his commendable efforts, alongside the former President of the Republic of Nigeria, H.E. Mr. Olesegun Obasanjo and former UN Secretary General H.E. Mr. Koffi Annan, in the peaceful resolution of their border disagreement in the Bakassi Peninsula. The award was delivered at the Presidential Palace by a delegation of the outgoing PALU Executive Committee, led by its President, Barrister Akere T. Muna. H.E. Mr. Thabo Mbeki, who was also present, ceremonially handed over the Award, on behalf of African lawyers, to H.E. Mr. President Biya.

Furthermore, PALU recognised exceptional African lawyers and other leaders for their contribution to the Development of Law, Justice and the Legal Profession in Africa. These are H.E Mr. Thabo Mbeki, Dr. Donald Kaberuka, Dr. Huguette Labelle, Mr. W. Paatii Ofosu - Amaah, the late Mr. Joseph Ebow Quashie, Dr. Julius Sakala S.C, Mr. Getachew Kitaw, Mr. Ben Kioko, Mr. Kalidou Gadio, Mr. Peter Ala Ajetey, Mr. Femi Falana, Mr. Nutifafa D.K. Kuenyehia, the late Mr. Fathi Khalil and Mr. Adama Dieng, To view the full list of the awards click here.

PALU would like to thank its sponsors, without whom this event would not have been possible. The TGA and Conference were sponsored by (in alphabetical order): the African Development Bank, Ethiopian Airlines, KYC360, National Hydrocarbons Corporation (SNH) Cameroon, MTN Cameroon, Government of Norway, the Solomon Tandeng Muna Foundation and TrustAfrica.

The TGA also saw PALU officially admit the Law Society of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as a member of its Council and General Assembly. PALU’s governance consists of three bodies (General Assembly, Council and Executive Committee) with complementary responsibilities in terms of policy, strategic and financial oversight. The PALU General Assembly consists of all its corporate and individual members; it meets at least once every three years. The PALU Council is made up of the Presidents of the five regional and fifty-four national Lawyers’ Associations (Bar Associations and Law Societies); it meets at least once every year. Towards the end of the General Assembly PALU further expressed its support for self determination of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.

To read more about the TGA you can visit:
Other meetings PALU took part in:
  • Inception Meeting – Decriminalising and Declassifying Petty Offences in Africa, Open Society Foundations, Johannesburg, South Africa, June 2014
  • 4th Meeting of the Global Network of Government Focal Points for the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), in Gaborone, Botswana
  • Inaugural Meeting of the Regional Programme Advisory Board, Regional Bureau for Africa, UNDP, New York, July 2014
  • Expert Validation Workshop for the AU Charter on Democracy, Governance and Elections Ratification Toolkit and Model Ratification Instrument; Int. IDEA Expert Validation workshop, Pretoria, July 2014
  • Meeting on future of East Africa Court of Justice, Kampala
  • “International Justice, Reconciliation and Peace in Africa: the International Criminal Court (ICC) and beyond”, convened by the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), Dakar, Senegal.

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NEWS FROM OTHER ORGANIZATIONS

New Judges Elected to the African Court

During its 25th Ordinary Session held from 24 to 25 June 2014, the Executive Council of the African Union re-elected Justice Sylvain Oré (Côte d’Ivoire), and at its 23rd Ordinary Session held from 26 to 27 June, 2014 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union re-appointed him for a six year term.

The Executive Council also elected three new Judges who were appointed by the Assembly for the same term.

The new Judges are:
  • Mrs.  Solomy Balungi Bossa (Uganda);
  • Mr. Rafaa Ben Achour (Tunisia)
  • Mr. Angelo Vasco Matusse (Mozambique)
The new Judges will replace Lady Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo (current President) from Ghana and Justice Bernard M. Ngoepe (current Vice President) from South Africa, who have served the statutory two terms required by the Protocol establishing the Court, and are thus not eligible for re-appointment, as well as Justice Kimelabalou Aba (Togo), who was not re-elected.

The new Judges will be sworn-in at a public sitting of the Court, on 8 September 2014, at the Seat of the Court in Arusha, Tanzania, in accordance with Rule 2(1) of the Rules of Court.

For more information you can contact the African Court at Registrar@african-court.org.

PALU would like to congratulate Justice Sylvain Oré on his re-election and the new incoming Judges on their appointment.

Trust Africa Appoints New Program Officer for Illicit Financial Flows and Executive Director

TrustAfrica has appointed Mr. John Briggs Bomba (Mr. Bomba) as the Program Officer responsible for its Illicit Financial Flows project. Mr. Bomba takes over from Mr. Tendai Murisa (Mr. Murisa) who will become the Executive Director of TrustAfrica in October 2014.

PALU would like to congratulate Mr. Bomba and Mr. Murisa. Trust Africa is one of PALU’s main contributors to its illicit financial flows program.

Katanga appeals dropped at the ICC

On 25 June 2014, both the defense and prosecution in the Germain Katanga case withdrew their appeals against the International Criminal Court (ICC) Judgment earlier this year found Katanga guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The defense however withdrew its appeal against the 12-year sentence handed down to the former Congolese militia leader.

The ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda explained that she decided to withdraw her appeal because of Katanga's expression of sincere regret and his acceptance of the judgment.
 
PALU is disappointed that Katanga's acquittal on charges of sexual and gender-based crimes, including rape and sexual slavery will not be pursued any further. As an advocator for the prosecution of gender based violence the withdrawal of the Prosecution’s appeal as a step backwards in the prosecution of gender based violence.

For more information on the Katanga case click here.

IRRI Appoints Executive Director

International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) has appointed a new Executive Director, Andie Lambe. Andie Lambe takes over from Dismas Nkunda. PALU would like to congratulate Andie Lambe and look forward to a continuation of the collaboration with IRRI. PALU would like to also take this opportunity to thank Dismas Nkunda for the wonderful work he has done with IRRI and wish him all the best.

Assassination of Lawyer and Rights Activist Salwa Bughaighis

On June 25 2014, Salwa Bughaighis (Ms. Bughaighis), a former member of the National Transitional Council of Libya, lawyer and human rights activist, and Vice President of the National Dialogue Preparatory Commission was assassinated by unknown gunmen at her home in Benghazi.

Ms. Bughaighis was a liberal activist and one of the most important human rights defenders in Libya, even before the revolution in February 2011. She was also one of the Libyan revolution's figures, and a founder of the National Dialogue Preparatory Commission that led the revolution period.

PALU appeals to the Libyan government to take appropriate action against the perpetrators. Such violent actions against citizens not only highlight the Libyan government’s failure to protect its citizens but are also a huge step backwards towards Libya becoming a democratic State.

PALU takes a moment to honour the work done by Ms. Bughaighis in her fight for human rights and democracy. May her soul rest in peace.

PALU condemns the conviction of human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko and journalist Bheki Makhubu of Swaziland

PALU and the Southern African Development Community Lawyers’ Association (SADCLA) condemn the conviction and sentencing of human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko and journalist Bheki Makhubu from Swaziland. The trial and resulting sentence both constitute a violation of the fundamental right to freedom of expression.

The charges against them emanated from articles that they published in February and March 2014, in which they questioned the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Chief Government Motor Vehicle Inspector Bhantshana Vincent Gwebu.

Mr. Maseko and Mr. Makhubu were convicted last week by the High Court of Swaziland for Contempt of Court and on 25 July 2014 they were sentenced to two years imprisonment without bail, despite the fact that such an offence ordinarily carries a 30-day sentence. The two have been imprisoned since 17 and 18 March 2014 respectively, which amounts to more than 130 days.

The arrest, imprisonment and sentencing of Mr. Maseko and Mr. Makhubu, as well as the manner in which their trial was conducted all raise serious concern as to the respect and preservation of the protection of the right of freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial in Swaziland, and Africa more general. Whilst reading the Judgment and Sentence, the Judge M.S. Simelane noted that he considered the sentence proportionate with the offences committed and that it would serve as a deterrent to others, in particular like-minded journalists. This raises further concerns on the diminishing right to freedom of expression in Swaziland.

The right to freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Art.19) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Art. 9) which Swaziland ratified in 1995. The African Charter further protects the right to a fair trial under Art.7.
 
PALU urges the authorities of Swaziland to uphold justice and the rule of law, respect its obligations under international law.

PALU further urges the authorities of Swaziland to immediately release Mr. Maseko and Mr. Makhubu on the basis of having spent more than 4 months in custody.
 
Further links:
Click here for the press release from SADCLA.

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UPCOMING EVENTS
IBA Conference on Mining in Africa

The International Bar Association (IBA) in collaboration with the TLS will be holding a conference on Mining under the theme “Mining in Africa: Opportunities and Legal Challenges”. The conference is open to attendance by lawyers from different countries. It will be held on 8 and 9 September, 2014 at the Julius Nyerere International Conference Centre (JNICC) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Click here for the notice sent out by TLS.

Click here for the registration form.


Upcoming Annual General Meetings


Law Society of Kenya: 13th -17th August 2014 at Leisure Lodge Beach & Golf Resort in Mombasa, Kenya. For more information you can contact: lsk@lsk.or.ke

Tanganyika Law Society Half Annual Conference and General Meeting: 12 August 2014 at Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) in Arusha, Tanzania. For more information you can contact mariam_othman@tls.or.tz.

The Fifteenth Annual General Meeting and Conference of the SADC Lawyers’ Association: 21 – 24 August 2014 in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. For more information you can contact: emilia@sadcla.org.

Nigeria Bar Association Annual General Assembly: 24th-29th August 2014 at the International Conference Centre, Owerri, Imo State in Nigeria. For more information you can contact:  info@nigerianbar.org.ng.  

African Court 34th Ordinary Session

 
The African Court on Human and Peoples Rights (African Court) will hold its upcoming 34th  Ordinary session from 8-19 September 2014. During the session, the Court will hold a public hearing on 15 and 16 September in the case of Alex Thomas v Tanzania.

The Applicant Mr. Alex Thomas, who is being represented by PALU has been in prison for 20 years since his conviction. He alleges that his right to due process was violated during his prosecution in national courts in Tanzania.

For more information on the case you can email us at legal@lawyersofafrica.org.

Course on Mineral Policy and Contract Negotiations for Parliamentarians and Civil Society Members


The African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IEDP) will be conducting a short course on mineral policy and contract negotiations on 11 and 12 August in Dakar, Senegal. The training sessions will be conducted in both French and English.

For more information on the course click here (English) and here (French).

For more information on upcoming courses you can visit: http://www.unidep.org/.

Other upcoming meetings:
  • 4 – 6 August; GABAC, Revision of CEMAC Regulation on Anti-money laundering / terrorism, Libreville (in French)
  • 25 – 26 August, OLC-AUC, Brainstorming Session on ratification of AU treaties in East Africa, Nairobi, Kenya
  • 28 – 29 August, TrustAfrica, African CSOs Strategy Workshop on IFF & African’s development Transformation, Accra, Ghana
  • 9 – 10 September, AFLA: Africa & the ICC - Lessons Learned & Synergies Ahead, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • 8 – 11 September, First Responders: Collecting and Analyzing Evidence of International Crimes, Salzburg
  • 12 September: ICRtoP Steering Committee Meeting, New York
  • 16- 18 September: African Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights convened by United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • 18 – 19 September, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria Conference “By All Means Necessary”: Operationalising the Responsibility to Protect and Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts in Africa”, Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • 19 - 21 October, LawTech Europe Congress (LTEC) in Prague, Czec Republic. PALU members get free VIP attendance tickets, email us for more info.
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ADVERTISEMENTS AND VACANCIES

PALU Jobs Board

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

The following vacancies are open:
  1. Protocol Officer, Grade P2, African Court
  2. Principal Legal Officer, P4, African Court
  3. Senior Information and Communication Officer, Grade P3
  4. Head of Finances and Admin Division, P5

JusticeMakers Competition 2014

International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) has launched the JusticeMakers 2014 Competition. This year’s theme will be an open-ended goal of eliminating the use of investigative torture.

IBJ will award 12 fellowships worth 5000 USD in seed funding each, with which JusticeMakers will be able to implement their proposed projects that advance the goal of creating a torture-free world. The deadline for applications will be on September 15. You can access the application forms here.

To read more about the competition you can visit: http://justicemakers.ibj.org/


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