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February 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

Burundi Press Law Case Hearing Before the EACJ

On 9 February 2015 the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) held a public hearing for case No 7 of 2013 Burundian Journalists’ Union v The Attorney General of Republic of Burundi (Burundi Press Law Case). This is a matter in which the Burundi Journalists’ Union (the Applicant), citing forty four (44) disputed sections of the adopted Law No 1/11 of June 2013 (Burundi Press Law), seized the EACJ asserting that the adoption of the Press Law violates Articles 6(d) and 7(2) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community which Burundi is obliged to uphold and respect as a Partner State.

The Applicant requested the Court to declare that the Burundi Press Law violates the right to press freedom as well as the press’ right to freedom of expression, and order the Government of Burundi to repeal or amend the Press Law without delay.PALU, together with other Civil Society Organisations intervened in the matter as amicus curiae (friend of the court). Additionally, PALU CEO, Mr. Donald Deya, in collaboration with the Medial Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI) were counsel for the applicant.
 
Click here for further information incorporated in PALU’s Press Release.

PALU Takes Part in a Workshop for Strategic Litigation on the Maputo Protocol

PALU participated in a two-day meeting on Strategic Litigation on the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol). The workshop took place in Nairobi from 23-24 February and was organized by the German International Cooperation (GIZ). The objective was to exchange ideas on Strategic Litigation in the field of women’s rights and identify specific rights and areas for litigation before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Court). It further aimed at disseminating challenges for ratification and implementation of the Maputo Protocol.

The workshop, which was based on a participatory approach, brought together representatives from civil society organizations who work at the national and regional level in Africa. Participants had the opportunity to discuss the work of their organization, learn more about the African Court and the Pan African Parliament and exchange experiences, challenges and best practices.

Virtual Ways for Civil Society Organizations to Ensure Peace and Democracy During Elections in Africa

This year, 2015, will see more than a dozen African countries conduct presidential and/or legislative elections. Most of these countries, including Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guinea, Libya, Mauritius, Niger, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia, have struggled with the transition to democracy at least since mid-1980s. There is a potential for 2015 to be a turning point with countries embracing, deepening and institutionalizing democracy for others.

A major task ahead for all countries that will conduct elections in 2015 will be to ensure that the majority of their citizens see these elections as free, fair and credible, a commitment reaffirmed under Article 17 of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance by State Parties. Civil Society is well placed to diagnose, anticipate, prepare for and seek to ensure effective action to prevent or limit major fraud or events capable of triggering a descent into violence. This could be through playing a role in advocating and implementing effectively the Situation Room model that piloted with some success in Nigerian, Liberian and Senegalese elections.

PALU unites with Open Society Initiative for West Africa and other Civil Society Organizations, which have made effort to implement the Situation Room model, to urge all African and other Civil Society Organizations to be more proactive in seeking to ensure effective action for peaceful and democratic elections in the spirit of solidifying good governance within the continent.

For further information on the situation room model click on the links below:
  1. From a "Situation Room", Democracy Spreads in West Africa by Amanda Fortier, Open Society Initiative for West Africa
  2. Making Elections Count: A Guide to Setting Up A Civil Society Election Situation Room, Advocacy Office. Written by Udo Jude, Edited by Bronwen Manby and Chidi Odinkalu. Open Society Initiative for West Africa
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NEWS FROM OUR MEMBERS

LSZ Elects New President

PALU wishes to congratulate Mrs Vimbai Nyemba, the newly elected President of the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ), a PALU institutional member, following an election held on 23 January 2015 in Harare, Zimbabwe. Mr Edward Mapara, the LSZ Secretary confirmed Mrs Nyemba to be the incoming President of LSZ. PALU commends the outgoing LSZ’s President, Lloyd Mhishi, for achievements attained during his term and wishes the newly elected LZS’s President a successful tenure.

SPLM Adopts a New Unification Agreement

On 21 January 2015, South Sudan’s rival factions of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) signed an agreement aimed at unifying the historical party. During the ceremony which was facilitated by the Tanzanian government held at Ngurdoto Hotel in Arusha, Tanzania, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and South Sudanese rebel leader and former Vice President Rick Machar signed the agreement. The Host, His Excellency President Jakaya M. Kikwete of Tanzania was joined by Excellences Presidents of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, Uganda, South Africa and Kenya.

Following days of intense talks, on 2 February 2015, Kiir and Machar signed a cease-fire deal that, among other things, proposes how the warring factions will share executive power and distribute government in an interim administration that will govern the country during a 30-month transitional Period.

For more information, read the articles below:
  1. South Sudan’s Warring Factions Sign New Cease-Fire Deal by Nicholas Bariyo, Wall Street Journal
  2. President Kenyatta in Arusha to Witness Signing of South Sudan Agreement by PSCU, Daily Nation
  3. South Sudan’s Rival SPLM Factions Due to Sign Agreement in Tanzania
 
TLS 2015 General Meeting Election Results

The Tanganyika Law Society(TLS), PALU’s institutional member, held its Annual Conference on 20 February 2015 and the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 21 February 2015 in Arusha, Tanzania. The AGM, whose theme this year was “60 years of Advancing Justice and Rule of Law,” was accompanied with General election for the positions of, among others President, Vice President, Treasurer and Six (6) members of Council. The results of the elections were as follows;

Council:                 
  1. Charles Rwechungura – President
  2. Flaviana Charles – Vice President
  3. John Seka – Honorary Treasurer
  4. Maria Matui–Member
  5. Nuhu Mkumbukwa – Member
  6. Natujwa Mvungi – Member
  7. Peter Hellar – Member
  8. Daniel Welwel – Member
  9. Ally Jamal – Member
  10. Aisha Sinda – Member
National Ethics Chairperson:
  1. Capt. Ibrahim Bendera
 Chapter Conveners:
  1. Arusha – Modest Akida;
  2. Dar es Salaam – Stephen Axwesso;
  3. Dodoma – Deus Nyabiri;
  4. Kilimanjaro – David Shillatu;
  5. Mbeya – Joyce Kasebwa;
  6. Mwanza – Stephen Magoiga;
  7. Mtwara – Hussein Mtebwa
  8. Iringa – Ladislaus Kaijage
  9. Tabora – Kassim Mussa; and
  10. Tanga- Mohamed A. Kajembe.
PALU joins TLS in congratulating the victors of the 2015 General Elections.

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NEWS FROM OTHER ORGANIZATIONS

Decisions of the AU Summit: January 2015

The African Union (AU) 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:
  • On 23 and 24 January 2015, the Permanent Representatives Committee conducted its Twenty Ninth (29th) Ordinary Session;
  • The Twenty Sixth (26th) Ordinary Session of the Executive Council was held on 26 and 27 January 2015;
  • The Twenty Fourth (24th) Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union was held on 30 and 31 January 2015.
Held on the sidelines of the AU Summit was the accession of a new Chairperson of the AU. On 30 January 2015, Zimbabwe President, His Excellency Robert Mugabe, the continent’s oldest leader, ascended to the rotating Chairmanship of the Union. On the same date the AU launched the AU Foundation whose mission is to mobilize resources in support of the African Union’s vision of an integrated, people-centred and prosperous Africa, at peace with itself and taking its rightful place in the world.

An Ebola Solidarity fund was also introduced in the spirit of Africa Against Ebola Solidarity following its inception at the AU-Private Sector Business Roundtable held on 8 November 2014.

Click here to access the decisions, declaration and resolutions adopted at the summit and here to read the AU Press Release on the launching of the AU Foundation and the introduction of Ebola Solidarity Fund.

The President of Germany Visits to African Court and EAC


President Joachim Gauck of the Federal Republic of Germany and AfCHPR President Justice Augustino RamadhaniPresident Joachim Gauck of the Federal Republic of Germany arrived in the United Republic of Tanzania on 2 February 2014 for a five-day state visit during which he visited the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights (the African Court) and the East African Community (EAC) on 5 February 2015. After being welcomed by the President of the African Court Hon. Justice Augustino Ramadhani, President Gauk noted that he had decided to visit the African Court because he commends its successful work and went on to assure it of his country’s support in its activities.

President Joachim Gauck with EAC Secretary General Dr. Richard Sezibera  At the EAC he was welcomed by the EAC Secretary General, Dr Richard Sezibera and got an opportunity to address a large gathering comprising of members of staff of the EAC organs and institutions, civil society organizations, members of the East African Legislative Assembly, Arusha City authorities and local residents at the Chambers of the East African Legislative Assembly. Among others, President Gauk cautioned the EAC to guard against setbacks, skepticism, self-doubt and public criticism that could derail the East African integration process.

Click here for the EAC press release and here for the African Court press release on the German President’s visit.

Development in Habre’s Trial

After a 19-months pre-trial investigation by a panel of four investigating Judges of the African Union’s Senegalese Extraordinary African Chambers, the panel, on 13 February 2015 found that there was sufficient evidence for Hissene Habre, a former Chadian leader (1982-1990) to face charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture. He is accused of overseeing the deaths of thousands during his time in power.

The pre-trial investigation entailed interviews of about 2,500 witnesses and victims, analysis of thousand documents from Hissene Habre’s political police, seizure of papers and effects from Habre’s two Dakar homes and assignment of experts to dissect his command structure.  This ruling comes subsequent to the Chamber’s chief prosecutor Mbacke Fall’s request in early February 2015 that the judges commit Habre to trial of the aforementioned charges. Hissene Habre’s trial before the Extraordinary African Chambers is expected to get under way in Senegal in May or June of this year.

Click here for details of Habre’s trial.

EALA Appoints Select Committee on Genocide

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) passed a resolution on 29 January 2015 to form a select Committee on Genocide. The Committee is charged with considering ways and means of combating, outlawing and preventing genocide. It shall in addition look at the security impact on the Community of genocide ideology including genocide denial. The Resolution, supported unanimously by EALA Members, gives the EALA Commission the go-ahead to nominate seven persons consisting of at least one Member from each Partner State of the East African Community (EAC).

For more information read the EAC press release.

ECOWAS Community Court President Calls for a Regional Human Rights Charter for the Community’s Citizens

The President of the Community Court of Justice for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS-CCJ), Honourable Justice Maris Do Ceu Silva Monteiro, has called for the urgent development of a region-wide human rights instrument that will contain a catalogue of rights for the region’s 300 million citizens. Making this call on 4 February 2015, at a ceremony to launch its 2015 legal year with a theme “The Effectiveness of ECOWAS Community Law: Challenges of Enforcement” the ECOWAS-CCJ President noted the low rate of the enforcement of the Court’s decisions which has implications for the credibility of the Court. This situation that has been blamed on the absence in most Member States of local implementing authorities as required under Article 24 of the Court’s 2005 Supplementary Protocol.

Justice Monteiro clarified that the theme of the celebration was designed to draw attention to the challenge of enforcement of Court’s judgments, reminding Members States of their obligations under international law to honour their commitments.

Click here to read the ECOWAS Court of Justice press release.

ECOWAS Calls for Partnership Against Boko Haram

The Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), held consultations on the sidelines of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. One of the outcomes, among others, was  the establishment of a Multinational Joint Task Force as well as the commending of the commitment demonstrated by Benin, Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria and Chad in the fight against Boko Haram. The Heads of State went further to call for the support from the International community and for the African Union to refer the matter to the United Nations’ Security Council for Action. In a statement on 2 February 2015, ECOWAS expressed solidarity with and sympathy for, the Government and people of Nigeria for the numerous losses of human life perpetrated by the terrorist attacks.

Click here for more information.

IHRDA Welcomes New Interim Executive Director

The Board of Directors of the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) appointed Ms Katherine Mulhern as an Interim Executive Director of the Institute. Ms Mulhern has, until recently, served as Vice Chair of the Board of the IHRDA and with this appointment she will build upon the Institute’s strong track record of promotion and defence of human rights in the African regional system. PALU is delighted to congratulate the IHRDA’s new Interim Executive Director and extends best wishes for continued success.

Click here to read IHRDA’s press release.

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UPCOMING EVENTS

ADVERTISEMENTS AND VACANCIES

PALU Jobs/Opportunities Board

The following vacancies are open:
  • Head of legal division, P5 - African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights
  • Angola Researcher, Human Rights Watch
  • OHCHR Minorities Fellowship Programme
For more information on the current vacancies you can visit: http://lawyersofafrica.org/jobs-board

Current opportunities are:
  1. Application form
  2. Course Schedule
 

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