Information Bill and Mogoeng interview

Posted on September 2, 2011. Filed under: Courts, Justice, Parliament |

Kate Lefko-Everett

Amidst all the anticipation and interest in the disciplinary hearing of ANC Youth League president Julius Malema this week, which according to a press release this morning is set to continue on Monday, two very important things are happening in Cape Town: first, deliberations continue in Parliament over the Protection of Information Bill. For more information, have a look at this analysis in today’s Mail & Guardian, or visit the Right2Know Campaign’s website. You can also receive live updates on Twitter via @r2kcampaign, and search (or post) by #SecrecyBill.

Then, tomorrow morning the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) will conduct an interview with Mogoeng Mogoeng, who was nominated earlier this month by President Zuma for the position of Chief Justice, which is open to members of the public.

A number of civil society organisations and others have objected to Mogoeng’s nomination, particularly given his past judgements in cases of domestic and sexual abuse, marital rape, gender equality and LGBTI rights. Sisonke Msimang, chair of Sonke Gender Justice Network and Executive Director of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, has very insightful analytical piece in the Business Day today, while Ilham Rawoot has reviewed Mogoeng’s rulings in cases of child abuse and rape.

Notably, Mogoeng also took a dissenting position in the case of The Citizen v McBride, the outcome of which was supported by the South African Coalition for Transitional Justice (SACTJ). On his blog Constitutionally Speaking, Professor Pierre de Vos explained Mogoeng’s position as follows:

‘In the case of The Citizen v McBride in a judgment handed down earlier this year by the Constitutional Court, justice Mogoeng dissented from the majority and provided reasons for this dissent which suggest that he has a curious understanding of the way in which freedom of expression operates in a constitutional democracy. In the context of a discussion of the effects of the granting of amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to those who had committed gross violations of human rights during the apartheid years, justice Mogoeng stated that it was impermissible to use truthful facts to insult, demonise and run down the dignity of self-confessed human rights violators.

Invoking “traditional values and moral standards” — something that the justices on the ultra-conservative wing of the US Supreme Court might do — the judgment seemed to suggest that it was inappropriate in a constitutional democracy to engage in debate that would affront the dignity of any individual. Even in cases where the impugned comments are based on incontrovertible facts (“X is a murderer hence X is a bad person”), would seemingly offend the honourable judge.

As per section 174 of the Constitution, the ‘President as head of the national executive, after consulting the Judicial Service Commission and the leaders of parties represented in the National Assembly, appoints the Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice and, after consulting the Judicial Service Commission, appoints the President and Deputy President of the Supreme Court of Appeal’.

As such, there is little opportunity for public participation in this process, except indirectly through expressions of support or opposition to representatives within Parliament. However, according to the the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, which has made a submission to the JSC together with Sonke, TAC and Section 27, members of the public can observe the interview as follows:

DATE : Saturday, 3rd September 2011
TIME : 09h15 for 09h45
VENUE : Westin Hotel, Lower Long Street, Convention Square next to the Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town

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Happy Birthday Madiba

Posted on July 18, 2011. Filed under: Events, ICC, Justice |

Kate Lefko-Everett

Today is the birthday of South Africa’s beloved first democratic president, anti-apartheid struggle leader, and in many ways the ‘Father of the Nation’ – we wish you happy birthday Tata Madiba!

In South African and around the world, everyone is encouraged to take 67 minutes out of your day to do something for the greater good! Need some ideas? Have a look at the Mandela Day website, or check in with your preferred local school, public library, NGO, etc. For Cape Townians, the hard-working Equal Education – which is campaigning for libraries in all South African schools – invites volunteers to help cover books at the Bookery in Roeland Street.

Go on. Surrender your soapies today. Abandon the treadmill. Have a working lunch. Then – hopefully – don’t stop with today!

Another cause for celebration and reflection is the commemoration of International Criminal Justice Day yesterday, on 17 July. The International Criminal Court has posted a series of videos online – I am adding a statement by ICC Judge President Sang-Hyun Song below, and more can be viewed here.

What about combining efforts around these two events? If you live in a country that is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, today could be the day to start an advocacy campaign that contributes to international justice? Post more ideas here!

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Stellenbosch Law and Poverty Colloquium

Posted on June 1, 2011. Filed under: Justice, Poverty |

As you may have read in the IJR News section of our website, Fanie du Toit and I were at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies earlier this week to attend the Law and Poverty Colloquium hosted by the University’s Law Faculty. The Faculty brought together an amazing programme of presenters and participants, and I particularly enjoyed the opening address by Professor Nancy Fraser of the New School for Social Research in New York.

Fraser discussed the dimensions of justice, which she construed as ‘parity of participation’, and referred to the equally important elements of redistribution, recognition and representation.

The full programme with links to papers can be viewed here. There are instructions for viewing papers in secure PDF format – I haven’t managed to do this myself, but you may be able to! Alternatively, contact details for the Law Faculty can be found here.

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‘African Court Takes Bold Stand on Libya’

Posted on May 11, 2011. Filed under: Justice |

We are the IJR have been closely following recent developments in Libya – have a look at this newsletter article on Democracy’s Fourth Wave, in which Ayanda Nyoka interviews Executive Director Fanie du Toit.

I was therefore very interested to find this article on the Open Society Foundations blog about the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights… have a look below!

African Court Takes Bold Stand on Libya

April 29, 2011 | by Tashmin Ali

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights has finally taken on a case—and it’s a big one. The newly operational court, which opened its doors in 2008 and is located in Arusha, Tanzania, recently stepped into the intersection between human rights and armed conflicts when it issued an order for provisional measures against Libya.

In its March 25 ruling, the court instructed Libyan authorities to “immediately refrain from any action that would result in the loss of life or violation of physical integrity” which could constitute a breach of the country’s international human rights obligations.

Read the full article here…

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Political pardons recommendations tabled

Posted on October 20, 2010. Filed under: Justice, Pardons, Reconciliation |

On Monday, government released a list of 149 convicted criminals who have been recommended for political pardons – including perpetrators of some of the most heinous apartheid crimes committed in South Africa. On the list is Adriaan Vlok, apartheid ‘minister of law and order’, as well as former police chief Johannes van der Merwe. The list also includes the names of four AWB members convicted of the 1995 Kuruman attacks, as well as those of ‘Worcester bombers’ Cliffie Barnard and Daniel Coetzee. (Read more in The Sowetan or Business Day)

Two named perpetrators, Simanga Emmanuel Dlamini and Mbongeni Mjwara, have been convicted of 21 murders each, as well as numerous attempted murders.

Earlier this year, a coalition of NGOs that included the IJR, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Khulumani Support Group, International Centre for Transitional Justice, South African History Archives Trust, Human Rights Media Centre, and the Freedom of Expression Institute launched a successful constitutional court case challenging the lack of victim participation in the special dispensation allowing for political pardons. (Read related posts by Brad Brockman and Fanie du Toit)

According to the Department of Justice, individuals or parties who want to make representations regarding the pardons recommendations must notify the Secretariat within 30 days.  The coalition has now expressed regret that government had to be legally compelled to involve victims in this process, and has called for serious efforts to “contact victims through an all-encompassing media campaign, involving the press, radio and TV”.

In the interest of broadening access and information dissemination, I have re-posted the procedures advertised by the Department of Justice below, and encourage others to re-post as well. The full list of pardons recommendations is available here.

‘Any person or party who wishes to make representations to The Presidency must notify the Secretariat in writing within 30 days of this publication. The Secretariat will respond to any communication received within 30 days. Thereafter such party will have a period of 30 days to lodge a detailed and substantiated written representation with the Secretariat. On receipt of communication from a victim or interested party the Secretariat will respond by way of a letter to the victim or interested party requesting that they, within a 30 day period:

  • State in appropriate detail, whether or not, in his or her view, the offence(s) was/were politically motivated.
  • Indicate, with reasons, whether they support the application for pardon.
  • Indicate, with reasons, whether they object to the granting of a pardon.
  • Victims should forward their written representations to the head of the Secretariat.

Victims or interested parties should forward their written notification and written representations to the Head of the Secretariat:

Mr Frederik Heyns
Director: Legal Process
The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Private Bag X81, PRETORIA, 0001

Physical address: The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, 1st Floor – Reception, Momentum Building, 329 Pretorius Street, PRETORIA, 0001

E-mail enquiries: PoliticalPardons@justice.gov.za

Telephone: Liana Nieuwoudt: Tel (012) 315 1278, Thulani Khambule: Tel (012) 315 4822, Fritz Willmot: Tel (012) 3151412

Fax: 086 6425 357′

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Andries Nel at International meeting for peace

Posted on October 12, 2010. Filed under: Justice, News |

South Africa’s Deputy Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development, Andries Nel, recently attended an international meeting for peace hosted by the Community of Sant’Egidi in Barcelona, Spain.

Nel made two interesting inputs at the meeting – the first is on the theme, There Can Be No Justice Without Life, and Nel calls for the intensification of the international campaign against the death penalty. He also maintained that “life can only be full and complete in conditions of social justice”, and underscored the importance of implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) and reforming “institutions of global governance to reflect the need for a just world order.”

In the second input, made during a panel discussion, he discusses how the values of the Freedom Charter – including respect for human rights, promotion of democracy, peace, justice and international rule of law – are continually enacted in South African society, as well as the role of ubuntu in foreign policy engagements. He also notes that the theme of the ANC’s centenary in 2012 will be “Unity in Diversity”.

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