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ANNOUNCEMENTS

JUDICIAL VACANCY

Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of the Turks and Caicos Islands

Click here for Details
Closing Date 19 August 2014

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SAD NEWS

Judge Eugene Cotran

The CMJA is sad to announce the death of Eugene Cotran, who passed away on 7 June 2014. He was called to the bar in England and Wales in 1959 and was a appointed a High Court Judge in 1977 in Kenya having served as Kenya Law Commissioner in the late 1960s. On his return to the UK he became the Chairman of the Centre for Islamic Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies amongst other posts. He was appointed Circuit Court Judge in 1992. He was a member of the Commonwealth Judicial Journal's Editorial Board from 1986-1999.

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NEXT CMJA CONFERENCE
2014

"Judicial Independence: the Challenges of the Modern Era"
Livingstone- Zambia

7-11 SEPTEMBER 2014
REGISTRATIONS NOW FULL

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APPEAL FROM
WIDOWS RIGHTS INTERNATIONAL
(WRI)

WRI have received a small grant to enhance their networks of activist widows groups and lawyers dealing with cases related to harmful cultural mourning rites and the inhumane treatment of widows. It is gathering information with a view to sharing good practice in improving the rights of widows. If you are a lawyer or judicial officer working in this field in Sub-Saharan Africa or know of a widows group or law firm undertaking such work, , WRI would like to hear from you so that it can build up a repository of good pracice and lessons learned and case law. See WRI

If you can assist please contact:
administrator@widowsrights.org

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RECENT DEVELOPMENTS AROUND THE COMMONWEALTH

The following information has been updated from websites across the Commonwealth.

NAURU
see above under Recent CMJA activities.
On 13th March 2014 the Chief Justice of Nauru, Justice Geoffrey Eames resigned. Click here for a copy of the Press release issued by him.

The Nauru government welcomed his resignation and announced that the judiciary would be reformed. Click here for the Press Release from the Nauru Government.

On 17th March, the Opposition called for the resignation of the Minister of Justice. Click here for details

ZAMBIA
In September 2013, the Law Association of Zambia petitioned the high court for the removal of the Acting hief Justice http://www.zambianwatchdog.com/laz-files-a-statement-of-claim-in-high-court-to-have-phillis-lombe-chibesakunda-removed/ http://www.zambianwatchdog.com/out-of-fear-judges-refuse-to-handle-case-involving-acting-chief-justice/

In August 2013 the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project (AfriMAP) in conjunction with the Law Association of Zambia issued a report on the state of the Zambian judiciary: Zambia: Justice Sector and Rule of Law http://www.zambianwatchdog.com/report-executive-interference-undermines-judiciary-performance/

On 17 July 2013- Prof Muna Ndulo disputed the Supreme Court Judgement on the three suspended judges: http://zambiareports.com/2013/07/12/prof-ndulo-disputes-supreme-court-judgement-on-mutuna/

On 20 May 2013- the three suspended judges applied for Judicial Review challenging the legality of the Tribunal set up to hear their cases. They won their right to Judicial Review in the Ndola High Court. But the government has since announced they will challenge the judicial review.

On 12 May 2013-Prof Hamsangule said that the decision of 9 May 2013- weakened the judiciary. http://www.zambianwatchdog.com/professor-hansungule-says-supreme-court-ruling-on-tribunal-has-weakened-judiciary/

On 11 May 2013, there were calls for the Acting Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice to step down: http://zambiadailynation.com/2013/05/11/justice-lombe-chibesakunda-must-step-down/

On 9 May 2013, the government of Zambia won their right to appeal against the Judicial Review of President Sata's decision to suspend three judges. In April 2012, Justice Phillip Musonda, of the Supreme Court and Justices Nigel Mutuna and Charles Kajimanga of the High Court for alleged professional misconduct. The judges were suspended in relation to a case related to issues arising from the demise of Zambia airways and a loan. The three judges suspended challenged President Sata's decision through a judicial review, which acted as a stay of President Sata's decision and won their case. The government appealed against the judicial review and on 9 May 2013 the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the appeal by 4 votes to 3.
However, it also recommended that the tribunal which had been convened to hear the case against the three judges should be disbanded. For further information: please see:
http://www.zambianwatchdog.com/controversy-and-ambiguity-surrounds-the-judges-tribunal-judgement/

SRI LANKA
CHIEF JUSTICE IMPEACHMENT

7 November 2013
The International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) announced that visas were been revoked their delegation which was due to participate in the launch co-hosted by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka and the IBAHRI entitled 'Making Commonwealth Values a Reality: the Rule of Law and the Independence of the Legal Profession' from 13 -15 November 2013. The delegation included the current UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Mrs Gabriella Knaul and also the first UN Special Rapporteur, Dato' Param Cumaraswamy.

26 August 2013
The Commonwealth Lawyers Association and the English Bar Human Rights Group issued an Amicus Brief in the Special Application for leave to appeal against the Judgement of the Court of Appeal under and in terms of Articles128(2) of the Constitution in the case of Dr Shirani Bandaranayake

19 April 2013
The CLA, CLEA and CMJA produce a resolution on Sri Lanka at the Commonwealth Law Conference held in Cape Town, South Africa

3 April 2013
International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) report published http://mail-int-bar.org/_act/link.php?mId=A9142688832712293945133506423012&tId=10931726

20 February 2013
Bar Human Rights Committe- Seminar
Speech by Dr Nihal Jayawickrama,
Legal Opinion by Mr Geoffrey Robertson QC

7 January 2013
Court of Appeal of Sri Lanka quashed impeachment of Chief Justice:
http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/verdict-sri-lanka-chief-justice-quashed-18148524#.UOwUSazLrKc

11 January 2013
Parliamentary Committee proceed with impeachment. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20982990

UN Report on Human Rights in Sri Lanka published
The UN Report on the status of Human Rights in Sri Lanka was published on 14 November 2012. Click here for details.

SOUTH AFRICA

Traditional Courts Bill
In October 2013 the National Council of Provinces has placed it back on its agenda for discussion with a view to sending it back to the provinces for further consultation. http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Traditional-Courts-Bill-back-to-provinces-20131015

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-10-16-traditional-courts-bill-rural-people-wont-give-away-their-rights-to-seal-pre-election-deals/

The CMJA has been monitoring the progress of the controversial "Traditional Courts Bill" which has been brought before the South African parliament. The Traditional Courts Bill would create a separate legal system for 18 million rural South Africans. The Traditional Courts Bill, as currently drafted would allow Chiefs in traditional societies, to be the judges in legal disputes amongst residents within their jurisdiction. Supporters of the Bill believe that the adoption of this Bill would free up the existing judicial system, reduce delays and ensure better productivity within the administration of justice in South Africa. However, the rights of women, children and other vulnerable members of society would be put in jeopardy as the bill as currently drafted does not allow for these vulnerable individuals to chose which court they want their case to be heard in. In addition, traditional courts do not cater for legal representation. As the judicial officers in these traditional courts would not be legally qualified, the existing qualification requirements for judicial officers in South Africa would not apply to them. The Chiefs in the patriarchal, traditional dominated societies of South Africa are not necessarily aware or open to the idea of women's rights or the rights of other vulnerable groups in Society. In his speech at the opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders, President Zuma said Africans had their own way of solving their problems through traditional institutions. "Let us solve African problems the African way, not the white man's way," Zuma said, to cheers from traditional leaders. "Let us not be influenced by other cultures and try to think the lawyers are going to help". However this is ignoring South Africa's international human rights commitments.

 

 

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RECENT CMJA ACTIVITIES

June 2014
DATE AND THEME OF NEXT TRIENNIAL CONFERENCE AGREED
The CMJA and the Judiciary of New Zealand have agreed the Theme for the CMJA's Triennial Conference in Wellington, New Zealand: "Independent Judiciaries, Diverse Societies". The Conference will take place from 13-18 September 2015. Further details will follow in due course

March 2014
The CMJA Director of Programmes, Judge Shamim Quresh, Regional Vice President, Jusice Margaret Ramsay-Halei and Mr Mark Guthrie (LCAD) Commonwealth Secretariat undertook a training of judicial officers in Guyana on domestic violence issues. We are grateful to the Commonwealth Secretariat for their support fo this training. Click here for further details of the training.

February 2014
CMJA launches Brochure for the CMJA Conference in Livingstone, Zambia. "Judicial Independence: The Challenges in the Modern Era" being held from 7-11 September 2014
Click here for details.

January 2014
Maldives
The CMJA Director of Programmes, Judge Shamim Qureshi and Mr Mark Guthrie (LCAD) Commonwealth Secretariat undertook a training of judicial officers in the Maldives on We are grateful to the Commonwealth Secretariat for their support fo this training.

Nauru
The CLA, CLEA and CMJA issued a statement following the forced removal and deportation of Magistrate Peter Law from Nauru, the disregard for the Chief Justice's injunction on the matter and the revocation of the Chief Justice's visa to enter Nauru. Click here to view the statement.

On 19 January 2014 Magistrate Peter Law was removed from his office as Resident Magistrate for Nauru and summarily deported without prior notice to the Chief Justice. The Chief Justice issued an injunction on the matter and was due to fly out to Nauru on Sunday 19 January 2014, the Chief Justice visa to enter Nauru was revoked.

Click here for initial Media Release from the Chief Justices of 19 January 2014
Click here for the Government's news release
click here for the response by the Chief Justice of 22 January 2014

LawAsia Statement:
http://lawasia.asn.au/objectlibrary/2795?filename=STATEMENT+ON+NAURU+JAN+2014.pdf

Law Council of Australia and Bar Association of Australia Statement:
http://www.lawcouncil.asn.au/lawcouncil/images/LCA-PDF/mediastatements/1401-Joint-Media-Statement-Nauru-Government.pdf

See RECENT DEVELOPMENTS (BELOW) FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

December 2013
The CMJA, together with the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) and Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA) launches the report on: "JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS COMMISSIONS: A MODEL CLAUSE FOR CONSTITUTIONS"

"The judiciary is one of the cornerstones of a modern democratic state and the way judicial officers are appointed has been an issue in many countries in the Commonwealth for a number of years."
The report follows an in-depth examination of the different types of appointments systems across the Commonwealth and proposes a model clause that may assist Commonwealth countries in future reforms of their constitutions and/or statutes in relation to judicial appointments. Click here to view the full report.

October 2013
The CLA, CLEA and CMJA made a submission to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and to the Canadian Foreign Affairs Department about their concerns about the lack of respect for the Commonwealth fundamental values in the run up the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting being held in Sri Lanka in November.

Previous reports : Click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Commonwealth Legal
Information Institute

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Tel: 44 20 7976 1007 Fax: 44 20 7976 2394 Email:
info@cmja.org
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