September 26, 2012
While civil society is still reeling from SADC’s recent decision to strip southern Africa’s regional court, the SADC Tribunal, of the ability to serve the interests of the region’s citizens, the Supreme Court of Appeal, seemingly unperturbed by recent events, confirmed that judgments of the now-defunct Tribunal are enforceable in South Africa. The SCA confirmed that property belonging to the Zimbabwean government may be attached and sold in execution of a cost order handed down by the SADC Tribunal.
September 21, 2012
The Supreme Court of Appeal has granted the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the South African Police Service (SAPS) leave to appeal the Zimbabwe Torture Case in which the North Gauteng High Court ordered the NPA and SAPS to investigate crimes against humanity committed in Zimbabwe.
The Supreme Court of Appeal is however likely to limit legal argument to the interpretation of the section 4(1) and section 4(3)(c) of the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act (ICC Act). These provisions deal with the jurisdiction of the South African authorities to investigate international crimes committed beyond South Africa’s borders. The following findings of the High Court will therefore not be challenged: that a reasonable basis exists to believe that crimes against humanity were committed in Zimbabwe; that the NPA and SAPS did not take South Africa’s international obligations into consideration in taking the decision not to investigate; the nature and extent of the obligation of the NPA and SAPS to investigate and prosecute international crimes; the evidentiary threshold for triggering an investigation in terms of the ICC Act; and the (ir)relevance of political considerations in relation to decisions taken to investigate under the ICC Act.
Hearing dates have not been allocated. More information about the Zimbabwe Torture Case and the Appeal is available HERE. For regular updates on this and other cases follow SALC on Twitter @follow_salc
August 13, 2012
Last Saturday, on 11 August 2012, Zimbabwe riot police officers unlawfully arrested 44 people who attended a gathering organised by Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ). The people who were arrested committed no crime. They were simply exercising their rights to assembly and to freedom of association by attending a meeting.
The Public Interest Law Gathering held at Wits University from 11-13 July 2012 was a collaborative event, hosted by a number of highly respected and committed human rights organisations. SALC was one of the host organisations and also presented two panels: one on ‘Litigating Against Loitering Laws: protecting the rights of marginalised populations’ and another on South Africa’s international criminal law obligations. The international criminal law presentation discussed potential prosecutions of international crimes both in South Africa and abroad. This was particularly topical, coming soon after the North Gauteng High Court declared that South African officials were obliged to investigate certain allegations of crimes against humanity in Zimbabwe. The key question was what the implications of legal action in countries other than where the crimes were committed – an ‘exporting’ of jurisdiction – were for South Africa. Read the rest of this entry »
June 7, 2012
Today the North Gauteng High Court dismissed an application for leave to appeal against the judgment delivered in Southern African Litigation Centre and Another v National Director of Public Prosecutions and Others by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) South African police (SAPS).
You’ll remember that last month the High Court ruled in SALC’s favour when it found that the NPA and SAPS’ decision not to initiate an investigation into crimes against humanity committed in Zimbabwe was unlawful because they failed to take into consideration South Africa’s international obligations in terms of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and domestic legislation giving effect to these obligations. The NPA and SAPS were therefore ordered to initiate an investigation. They challenged this decision on a number of grounds, all of which were dismissed, and Judge Hans Fabricius concluded that an appeal held no reasonable prospects of success.
Read the press release below:
SALC and the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum are thrilled to announce that the North Gauteng High Court ruled in SALC’s favour in the Zimbabwe Torture Case. Judge Hans Fabrius ruled that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the South African Police Service (SAPS) failed to take South Africa’s international criminal law obligations into account when they refused to initiate an investigation into crimes against humanity committed in Zimbabwe, despite SALC providing credible information in this regard. The NPA and SAPS must now revisit their initial decision in accordance with the detailed order of the Court.
At the end of March the North Gauteng High Court reserved judgment in SALC’s landmark torture case in which SALC and the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum asked the High Court to set aside a decision of South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority and police service not to investigate and prosecute high level Zimbabwean officials accused of torture. The case, the first to be brought in terms of South Africa’s domestic Rome Statute Act, raises important questions about the content and nature of South Africa’s obligations to investigate and prosecute international crimes. Although the judgment is only expected in May 2012, the issues raised certainly provide food for thought.
In this regard, Christopher Gevers of the University of Kwazulu Natal provides an excellent analysis of the case through the lense of universal jurisdiction on EJIL:Talk, the European Journal of International Law blog.
The blog post is titled The Application of Universal Jurisdiction in South African Law and to wet your appetite, this is Gevers’ overall impression of the case:
“Having witnessed the judge’s handling of the case, I would certainly not characterize him as a shrinking violet, quite the contrary. Equally so, it was clear that he had a complete and considerable grasp of all of the complex issues raised by the parties, as well as the significance of the case both from the perspective of the victims, and its broader context. All this augurs well for those of us looking for a wide-ranging, precedent-setting judgment fitting of the inaugural judicial pronouncement on South Africa’s ICC Act.”
June 23, 2011
“We note, with bitter regret that there is a significant gap between our expectations of the scheme, and what it is actually achieving … For that reason we are expressing a vote of no confidence in the Kimberley Process.” RAPAPORT News reports that Alfred Brownell of Green Advocates, Liberia, told the meeting this on behalf of the coalition. Bronwell stressed that the process has failed to protect the interest of communities that have suffered from diamond fuelled violence. The Civil Society Coalition of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, walked out of the intersessional meeting Thursday. The meeting being held in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), focused on compliance issues surrounding Zimbabwe’s Marange mine. Read this report here.
June 15, 2011
Check out an opinion piece by our own Lloyd Kuveya in the Business Day on the Regional Summit on Zimbabwe.
Check out an interesting article from Business Day on the suspension of the SADC Tribunal.