AN EXCITING WEEK IN COURT FOR SALC: FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, THE RIGHT TO EQUALITY, REFUGEE LAW AND INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL LAW

Salc : Caroline James

SALC will be in the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the South Gauteng High Court, the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court and the Lesotho High Court this week for cases that deal with freedom of expression, the right to equality and the interplay between refugee law and international criminal law.

14 May 2013 – South Africa: Mail and Guardian Media Limited and others v Chipu NO and others.

This case began when the Mail and Guardian and other media houses applied for access to Czech fugitive, Radovan Krejcir’s hearing before the Refugee Appeal Board. The media houses were refused access on the basis that the asylum application process is confidential, and they then instituted legal proceedings in the North Gauteng High Court. Judge Fabricius found that under South Africa’s Refugees Act confidentiality “pervades the entire proceedings, from lodgement of the application until after the conclusion of an appeal or review,” and that the asylum seeker’s interest in having the proceedings confidential outweighed the public’s interest in having access to hearings. The media houses appealed this ruling to the Constitutional Court.

SALC has been admitted as amicus curiae (friend of the court) and has provided submissions that argue that while confidentiality is a vital tool in ensuring the safety of asylum seekers, refugees and their families, a flexible system is required to allow for that confidentiality to be lifted in some exceptional circumstances.

SALC will be providing updates on the trial via twitter using the hashtag #Krejcir. Follow us here, @follow_SALC.

For more information on this case see our case page.

15 and 16 May 2013 – Zambia: People v Paul Kasonkomona

On 7 April 2013 Paul Kasonkomona, a respected HIV activist, was arrested outside Muvi TV station after he appeared on a television programme where he spoke about the rights of LGBT persons. Mr Kasonkomona was eventually released on bail on 11 April 2013. His trial is scheduled for 15 and 16 May 2013 in the Lusaka Magistrates Court. Mr Kasonkomona was charged with an offence in terms of section 178(g) of the Zambian Penal Code which provides that “every person who in any public place solicits for immoral purposes” is deemed an idle and disorderly person, and liable to imprisonment for one month or to a fine.

SALC is providing legal support in the case.

SALC will be providing updates on the trial via twitter using the hashtag #Kasonkomona. Follow us here, @follow_SALC.

For more information on this case see our case page.

16 May 2013 – Lesotho: Masupha v Senior Resident Magistrate for the Subordinate Court of Berea and others

This case before the Lesotho High Court, sitting as the Constitutional Court, involves the constitutionally-guaranteed rights to equality and to be free from discrimination. It was brought by Senate Masupha, the first born child of a chief, who argued that her rights are violated as she is prevented from succeeding to chieftainship solely because of her gender.

SALC intervened as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in this matter, and argued that this customary law not only violated the right to equality but also conflicts with Lesotho’s regional and international obligations.

Judgment is expected to be handed down on 16 May 2013.

SALC will be providing updates on the trial via twitter using the hashtag #Masupha. Follow us here, @follow_SALC.

For more information on this case see our case page.

17 May 2013 – South Africa: Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa v President of the Republic of South Africa

In June 2011 former Rwandan army general and suspected war criminal, Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, survived an apparent assassination attempt and was soon thereafter granted refugee status in South Africa. The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) supported by SALC submitted a briefing paper to the South African refugee authorities explaining why the grant of asylum was problematic. After receiving no meaningful response CoRMSA and SALC launched judicial review proceedings in the North Gauteng High Court seeking a declaration that the decision to grant Nyamwasa refugee status was unlawful.

The matter was postponed last November, and will be heard on Friday 17 May 2013 at the South Gauteng High Court.

SALC will be providing updates on the trial via twitter using the hashtag #Nyamwasa. Follow us here, @follow_SALC.

For more information on this case see our case page.

*This blog was updated on 15 May 2013 to include the information on Masupha v Senior Resident Magistrate for the Subordinate Court of Berea and others

This entry was posted in  International Criminal JusticeLesothoLGBT/sex worker rightsSouth AfricaWomen’s rightsZambia and tagged International Criminal JusticeKrejcirLGBTlitigationNyamwasaPaul KasamkomoRwandaSouth AfricaZambia.