EACJ Delivers Reasons for Disallowing Application 5 of 2015 (the “Burundi Third Term Case”)

Here’s our e-Bulletin! We, at Pan African Lawyers Union, thank you for your continued interest and support in our work.
View this email in your browser
EACJ Delivers Reasons for Disallowing Application 5 of 2015
(the “Burundi Third Term Case”)
Yesterday, 29 July 2015, the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) delivered the reasons for disallowing Application No. 5 of 2015, arising from Reference No. 2 of 2015 (the “Burundi Third Term Case.”)On 6 July 2015, the East African Civil Society Organisations’ Forum (EACSOF) filedReference No. 2 of 2015, against the Attorney General of Burundi, the Independent National Electoral Commission of Burundi and the Secretary General of the East Africa Community. The Reference challenges the legality of the entire “third term project” in Burundi, starting with the impugned Decision of the Burundi Constitutional Court (made on 5 May 2015), and all consequent and subsequent actions undertaken by the Government of Burundi, the Presidency of Burundi and the Independent National Electoral Commission of Burundi. This Reference is yet to be heard on its merits.

On the same day (6 July 2015), EACSOF filed, within the above Reference, Application No. 5 of 2015, seeking urgent Interim Orders (Provisional Measures) to stay the Burundi Presidential Election, pending the Hearing of the Reference on its merits.

On 14 July 2015, the Court held a brief ex parte Hearing (i.e. only the Applicant, EACSOF was present). It ordered that there be an inter partes Hearing (i.e. with all parties present) on 20th July 2015; and further that the Applicant (EACSOF) files English translations of two of the documents that it had appended to its Pleadings in the case. (Decision of the Court here)

On 20 July 2015, the Court held an inter partes Hearing, with the Applicant (EACSOF) and the 1st Respondent (Attorney General of Burundi) represented. The 3rd Respondent (Secretary General of the East African Community) was not present but sent communication that he would be bound by the Decision of the Court. The 2nd Respondent (Independent National Electoral Commission) has neither filed a Response nor presented itself in Court to date. After Submissions by the Applicant and 1st Respondent, the Court issued a Summary Decision in which it briefly disallowed the Application for urgent Interim Orders (Provisional Measures). It indicated that it would deliver the Reasons for its Decision at a later date, as provided for in Rule 68(3) of the Rules of Court. (Summary Decision of the Court here)

Yesterday, 29 July 2015, the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) delivered its reasons for disallowing Application No. 5 of 2015.  (Reasons for the Decision of the Court here)

While the Application for Interim Orders (Provisional Measures) has been disallowed, the main Reference remains to be heard. The Applicant (EACSOF) is represented by the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU), which remains committed to litigating all the issues in the Reference fully.

Any comments, input or inquiries should be addressed to secretariat@lawyersofafrica.org.

The Gambia – UN Human Rights Experts on the Death Penalty & Report of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances

UN rights experts hail Zambia’s move away from death penalty, but warn of “areas of concern” in Africa

GENEVA (22 July 2015) – Two United Nations human rights experts welcomed a recent decision by the President of Zambia, Edgar Lungui, to commute the death sentences of 332 individuals to life imprisonment. The UN Special Rapporteurs on summary executions, Christof Heyns, and on torture, Juan E. Méndez, also encouraged the Zambian authorities “to take a step further by removing all reference to the death penalty in the country’s laws.”  

President Lungui commuted the sentences after his visit to Mukobeko Maximum Security Prison, which despite a capacity of 51 inmates, houses hundreds.
“By commuting these death sentences, the Zambia puts a stop to mental and physical pain and suffering, and takes an important step towards ensuring respect for the inherent dignity of the human person,” Mr. Mendez said.

“This decision is in line with the trend in Africa – as in the rest of the world – to move away from the death penalty. As the Secretary General of the UN has said, there is no room for this form of punishment in the 21st Century,” Mr Heyns said.

However, the experts warned of continuing areas of concern regarding the death penalty in Africa. In Egypt, they noted, hundreds of defendants at a time are sentenced to death in unfair mass trials. “Even though the execution rate is lower, these trials clearly do not meet international standards,” they said.

The situation in the Gambia is also worrying: after abruptly ending a longstanding moratorium and hanging nine people in 2012, it has now been proposed that the number of offenses punishable by death be expanded. “This proposal, if adopted, would be in stark contrast to the trend away from capital punishment elsewhere on the continent,” they underlined.

The independent experts noted that President Lungui’s decision supports previous steps towards the abolition of capital punishment in the Zambia, where a presidential moratorium on the death penalty has been maintained since 1997. However, they called on the Zambian authorities to vote in favour of the UN General Assembly’s resolution calling for a global moratorium, rather than abstaining, as they have in the previous four votes.

According to the Special Rapporteurs, three-quarters of the world States have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice and the same applies to Africa. In 2014 only four States in the region are known to have conducted executions. Earlier this month, the Togolese Republic became Africa’s 12th state party to the 2nd Optional Protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aimed at the abolition of the death penalty.

Moreover, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has consistently called for the abolition of the death penalty over the last two decades. The Commission has drafted a Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Abolition of the Death Penalty.

“These are very significant steps by the Commission, and if the Protocol is adopted soon by the African Union and opened for ratification by African States, that will give a renewed emphasis to the process of putting the era of the death penalty behind us,” the UN experts stressed.

ENDS

PRESS RELEASE: BURUNDI CRISIS: PALU&EACSOF JOINTLY FILE A CASE AT THE EACJ CHALLENGING THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF BURUNDI&CENI’S DECISIONS

Here’s our e-Bulletin! We, at Pan African Lawyers Union, thank you for your continued interest and support in our work.
View this email in your browser
PRESS RELEASE
BURUNDI CRISIS: PALU AND EACSOF JOINTLY FILE A CASE AT THE EACJ
CHALLENGING THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF BURUNDI AND CENI’S DECISIONS PERMITTING PRESIDENT NKURUNZIZA’S THIRD TERM RE-RUN FOR ELECTIONS
Monday 6 July 2015, the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) together with the East African Civil Society Organisations’ Forum (EACSOF) filed an application at the East African Court of Justice. The purpose of this application is to obtain a ruling from the East African Court of Justice on the legality of the decision reached by the Constitutional Court of Burundi on 5th May 2015, which allowed President Nkurunziza to run for a third term in elections. This decision was reached despite the following;
  1. On 28th August 2000, the Government of the Republic of Burundi signed the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement (Arusha Agreement) which provides that the President of the Republic of Burundi “shall be elected for a term of 5 years, renewable only once. No one may serve more than 2 presidential terms.”
  2. The Constitution of Burundi clearly provides that “The President of the Republic is elected by universal direct suffrage for a mandate of five years renewable one time.”
  3. That the decision by the Constitutional Court of Burundi was reached under great pressure and intimidation. This became apparent when the vice president of the Court, Mr. Sylvere Nimpagaritse fled the country and the decision was thus reached in the absence of a full bench.
Civil Society Organisations are convinced that the people of Burundi are unhappy with the decision of the Constitutional Court and the President’s bid to run for a third term, however elections are set to proceed despite the political turmoil and unrest, and notwithstanding the following:
  1. The African Union and East African Community have made calls for the elections to be postponed;
  2. Threats and intimidation continue: On 28th June 2015, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr. Pie Ntavyohanyuma fled the country, on 25th June 2015 the 2nd Vice President of the Republic, Mr. Gervais Rufyikiri also fled, on 30th May 2015, the Vice-President of the Commission électorale nationale indépendante/Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) of the Republic of Burundi, Ms. Spes-Caritas Ndironkeye, together with a Member of the said Commission, Ms. Illuminata Ndabahagamye fled as well.
PALU and EACSOF are hoping to obtain the following remedies from the East African Court of Justice:
  1. A Declaration that the decisions by the Constitutional Court of Burundi and the CENI violate the Arusha Agreement and the Constitution of Burundi;
  2. A Declaration that the decision of the Constitutional Court of Burundi violates the treaty for the establishment of the East African Community;
  3. An Order to quash the decision of the Constitutional Court of Burundi and the CENI’s decision which allowed Pierre Nkurunziza to run illegally for third term.
Click here to read the official press statement by the Burundi Civil Society Organizations engaged in Citizens’ initiative to ensure compliance with the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi and the Constitution.
For more information about the case, follow through our social pages using#PALUatCourt #BurundiCrisis and please contact the following:

Donald Deya, Chief Executive Officer, Pan African Lawyers Union
Email: secretariat@lawyersofafrica.org

Morris Odhiambo, President, East African Civil Society Organisations’ Forum
Email: odhotiato@gmail.com

About PALU

The Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) is a continental membership forum for African lawyers and lawyers’ associations. Our vision is to see a united, just and prosperous Africa, built on the rule of law and good governance. Our mission is to advance the law and the legal profession, rule of law, good governance, human and peoples’ rights and socio-economic development of the African continent.

The Gambia’s record on women’s rights to face scrutiny by UN committee on 9 July in Geneva

The Gambia’s record on women’s rights to face scrutiny by UN Committee

GENEVA (6 July  2015)  – The Gambia’s record on women’s rights will be examined by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) on Thursday 9 July in meetings that will be webcast live.

The Gambia is one of the 189 States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and so is required to submit regular reports to the Committee of 23 independent experts on how it is implementing the Convention.

The Committee will engage in a dialogue with a delegation from the Gambian Government of on questions relating to the promotion and protection of women’s rights in the country, and will also hear from NGO representatives. The session will take place in Conference Room XVI at Palais des Nations in Geneva from 10:00 – 17:00 (08:00 – 15:00 in The Gambia). The live webcast can be viewed athttp://www.treatybodywebcast.org/.  

Among the possible issues to be discussed are: Women’s access to justice; measures to tackle female genital mutilation and other forms of violence against women; measures to promote women’s participation in political and public life; decriminalization of abortion; support for women living with HIV/AIDS; situation of rural women; incompatibility of customary and personal laws with the Convention, particularly in regard to marriage, divorce and inheritance; measures to combat child and forced marriage.

The Gambia’s report and further information can be found at:  
http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=944&Lang=en

To learn more about the Committee on the Elimination of the Discrimination against Women, visit:http://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/cedaw/pages/cedawindex.aspx
For more information and media requests, please contact Liz Throssell (+41 (0) 22 917 9466/ethrossell@ohchr.org

Treaty Bodies at a glance – pdf booklet:http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/TB/TB_booklet_en.pdf

UN Human Rights, follow us on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unitednationshumanrights
Twitter:
http://twitter.com/UNrightswire
YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/UNOHCHR