2015 Welcome Note
Dear esteemed colleagues,
As this is our first issue of 2015 we would like to take this opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year filled with happiness, good health and prosperity.
We would also like to convey our deepest gratitude for your continued interest and support in our work towards advancing the law and the legal profession, rule of law, good governance, human and peoples’ rights and socio-economic development of the African continent in order to see a united, just and prosperous Africa built on the rue of law and good governance.
2014 was a year full of developments for PALU and among others we held our Triennial General Assembly (TGA). The TGA saw not only the election of the 2014-2017 Executive Committee but also the adoption of PALU’s 2014-2019 Strategic Plan. PALU’s strategic direction over the period of six (6) years of this plan will be on three (3) main areas of thematic focus:
We value your views on our work and would like to hear from you. Kindly take a minute to fill in the following short survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RGBCJ5V
The PALU Secretariat
A Roundtable on Accountability for Sexual Violence by Security Forces in the East and Horn of Africa
PALU took part in a roundtable on accountability for sexual violence by security forces in the East and Horn of Africa. The roundtable took place on 26 and 27 January 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya. The aim of the roundtable was to discuss strategies for increasing accountability for sexual violence committed by security forces with a focus on Somalia, Darfur and South Sudan. Participants explored mechanisms for providing legal redress to survivors in the East and Horn of Africa in the context of the domestic legal systems including customary mechanisms, as well as regional and international legal frameworks. Participants also discussed how international actors including international donors and peacekeepers may be held accountable for sexual violence committed by security forces.
PALU made a presentation on a sub-theme that covered relevant international legal framework and the obligations placed on the state to prevent and punish sexual violence committed by security forces. Click here
to download the presentation.
PALU has been actively involved in combating sexual violence against women. Recently we worked with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK-FCO) in drafting International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict: Basic Standards of Best Practice. PALU remains committed to the fight against impunity especially, but not limited to, gender based violence during war time.
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NEWS FROM OUR MEMBERS
Call for Articles and Advertisements for the SADC Lawyer Magazine
The SADC Lawyers’ Association (SADCLA)
will be publishing its 4th and 5th editions of The SADC Lawyer
magazine in March and August 2015 respectively. The SADCLA calls for articles with a focus on (but not limited to) independence of the Bar and the Judiciary, law firm management, emerging trends in corporate law, legal practice legislation, cross border legal practice, public interest litigation, legal (including continuous) training, secured transactions, tax law, environmental law, natural resource governance, international trade law, international criminal law, intellectual property, and litigation challenges and/or successes.
to read the full call for Articles.
for more information on how you can advertise in the respective magazines.
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NEWS FROM OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
The 24th African Union (AU) Summit
The African Union held its 24th Summit from 23 to 31 January 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The theme of the Summit was “Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”
. The Summit encompassed various meetings of different AU organs and decision making bodies which were as follows:
African and International Civil Society Organizations, including PALU, signed a letter calling on the Chairperson of the AU Commission to use the 24th AU Summit to bring attention to the importance of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP). The letter pinpointed a range of advocacy points focusing on specific crises throughout the continent and urged for further action by the African Union to uphold RtoP and assist states in ensuring the protection of populations from atrocity crimes.
to read the full text of the letter.
On 31 January 2014 AU Head of State and Government reviewed a report produced by the AU High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows and presented by the Chairperson of the Panel, Former South African President, Thabo Mbeki. The review of this High Level Panel report came at a time when irrefutable evidence has been released by the Global Financial Integrity (GFI) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) showing that for decades Africa has been robbed of its resources losing more than US$50 billion annually through Illicit Financial Outflows.
In this regard, civil society organizations across Africa welcome the AU’s displayed focus on Illicit Financial Flows and most especially, PALU united with African Civil Societies in issuing a joint statement on Illicit Financial Flows to the Heads of State and Government of the African Union during the 24th Ordinary Session Assembly. Among other recommendations African Civil Societies called AU Heads of State and Government to adopt the recommendations contained in the High Level Panel report and provide the necessary leadership by putting in place the adequate institutional and political mechanism to ensure that African governments have a clear vision and road map for the implementation of key recommendations aimed at tackling Illicit Financial Flows.
PALU continues to commit to remaining engaged on and to collaborate with interested stakeholders in, the fight against Illicit Financial Flows. The pinnacle of its efforts towards this fight can be traced back in June 2014 during the TGA when leaders, members and friends of PALU gathered in Yaoundé, Cameroon and adopted the Yaoundé Declaration on Combating Illicit Flows from Africa.
to read the CSOs press release titled “From the Atlantic to the Pacific, Civil Society Organizations Across Africa Welcome AU Focus on Illicit Financial Flows”
The Joint African Civil Society Statement on Illicit Financial Flows to the African Union Head Of States and Government can be downloaded here
in English and here
to read PALU’s Yaoundé Declaration on Combating Illicit Financial Flows from Africa and read more here
LRA Commander Captured and Handed Over to the ICC
Senior LRA Commander, Maj Gen Dominic Ongwen was handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 18 January 2015 for trial where he is indicted on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. In 2003, Uganda petitioned the ICC to indict Maj Gen Ongwen, his former boss Joseph Kony and three other LRA senior commanders namely; Vincent Otti, Raska Lukwiya and Okot Odhiambo for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Their arrest warrants were issued in 2005 but investigations over the mass atrocities committed by the rebels in Uganda, DR Congo, South Sudan and CAR have been ongoing ever since. Ongwen and the four others were indicted by the ICC in 2005 but defected from the group in December 2014.
Maj Gen Dominic Ongwen was captured on 3 January 2015 in the Central African Republic (CAR) jungles by the largely Muslim Seleka rebels in Kotétroi village, Sam Ouandja province, in the North-Eastern region of Haute Kotto. The rebels then handed him over to the American troops hunting the LRA in CAR on 5 January 2015. Initial reports said Maj Gen Ongwen had surrendered but later the Seleka rebel leadership refuted the claim and insisted he had been captured after a 25–minute gun battle with their fighters. The Ugandan People’s Defence Force positively identified Maj Gen Ongwen but he remained in the custody of the US Special Forces until 14 January 2015 when the US government and African Union’s Regional Counter Task Force (AU-RTF), that are pursuing the LRA in CAR agreed to forward him to the ICC for trial. Dominic Ongwen arrived in the ICC detention centre on 21 January 2015.
to read the official ICC press release and here
to read The Citizen article.
Former ULIMO Rebel Commander Arrested for Alleged War Crimes
Alieu Kosiah, a former Commander of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) was arrested on 10 November 2014 in Switzerland where he was residing. A report of his arrest was only released in January 2015 following the refusal to confirm the arrest by the Office of Attorney General in Switzerland. A Swiss judge decided on 13 November 2014 that Mr. Kosiah will remain in detention for at least three months.
ULIMO is a rebel group that fought against Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front for Liberia (NPFL) in Liberia’s first civil war. The arrest came a few weeks after an NPLF Front Line Commander, Martina Johnson, was arrested in Belgium for her alleged role in wartime atrocities. The victims directly implicate Mr. Kosiah as having participated in mass atrocities, including systematic killings committed against civilians between 1993 and 1995 in Lofa County, in North Western Liberia. The news of Martina Johnson's arrest in Belgium gave hope to thousands of Liberian victims that justice can be a reality. This second arrest is a milestone as it is the first case ever against an ULIMO commander and it reinforces the Liberian demand for impartial justice for all victims. For more information you can click here
Palestine Accedes to the Rome Statute
Palestine acceded to the Rome Statute on 2 January 2015. Palestine had accepted, by means of a declaration under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute, the ICC’s jurisdiction on 13 June 2014. With this move Palestine became the 123rd state to join the ICC. Pursuant to Article 126 of the Rome Statute for Palestine the Statute shall enter into force on the first day of the month after the 60th day following the deposit by such State of its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.
to read the official ICC press release.
The EACJ Rules on the Appeal of Walk to Work case
On 16 January 2015 the Appellate Division of the EACJ delivered a judgment of an appeal by the Government of the Republic of Uganda (Uganda) against the East African Law Society (EALS) and the Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC).
The case involved the alleged actions of the agents of Uganda against various groups of Ugandan Citizens. A group of citizens had decided to walk to work in protest against the high cost of fuel, transport and living. The EALS asserts that the actions by the Uganda authorities offended the peoples’ human rights under Uganda’s Constitution and the EAC Treaty.
In its ruling the Appellate Division had challenged the decision of the First Instance Division of 13th February 2013 which had allowed the EALS to file electronic evidence to support the matter on the Walk to Work case by adducing additional evidence in the form of documentation and in electronic form.
The Appellate Division upheld the decision of the First Instance Division on the grounds that the Appellant has failed to demonstrate that the Learned trial Judges misdirected themselves in granting leave to the 1st Respondent to adduce the new evidence. The Court further stated that no prejudice will be occasioned to the Appellant from the admission of the new evidence in as much as a reasonable opportunity will be provided to him to respond to and to rebut the new evidence. The Appeal was dismissed and the matter was remitted to the First Instance Division for determination of the Reference on merits.
The press release is available here
The African Court’s Opinion on Access to the Court
On 5 December 2014 the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Court) delivered an advisory opinion from an application submitted by the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (the Committee) under Article 4(1) of the Court Protocol (the Protocol) and Rule 68 of the Rules of Court. The Committee had requested the Court to decide on whether the former is among the entities that can bring cases to the later under Article 5 of the Protocol. Delivering its opinion in a public hearing during the Court’s 35th Ordinary Session in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Court unanimously decided that although the Committee can lodge advisory opinions it cannot file cases under Article 5(3) of the Protocol.
to read the full text of the Judgement.
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Upcoming African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights Sessions
The African Court will hold its 36th Ordinary Session from 9 to 27 March 2015 and subsequently hold its 7th Extraordinary Session on 30 March to 1 April 2015. Both sessions shall take place at the seat of the Court in Arusha, Tanzania. More information about the African Court’s upcoming Sessions may be accessed by contacting the Court’s useful contacts available at www.african-court.org
ADVERTISEMENTS AND VACANCIES
PALU Jobs/Opportunities Board
The following vacancies are open:
- English and French Language Revisers, P4 – African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights