On the 1st of March 2018, the North Gauteng Division of the High Court handed down judgment in the case of Law Society of South Africa and others v The President of the Republic of South Africa and others. The case challenged South Africa’s former President’s role in the suspension of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal in 2011. The then-President had also participated in the adoption of a new SADC Tribunal Protocol which removed the rights of citizens to petition the tribunal for legal redress in 2014. The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) and others challenged the President’s decisions.
The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) was admitted as amicus curiae in a case. SALC had argued that South Africa’s parliamentary ratification of the SADC Treaty and the First Protocol created a right for individuals to access a regional tribunal. As such, the 2014 Protocol, which was adopted by the SADC Summit hinders this access. Consequently, the President’s actions must be declared invalid and unconstitutional.
The High Court declared that the President’s actions of participating in the suspension of the Tribunal in 2011 and signing the 2014 Protocol were unlawful. The decision has been referred to the Constitutional Court for confirmation.
SALC welcomes the judgment of the High Court for upholding the rights of individuals to access the regional tribunal.
SALC’s Executive Director, Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, reacting to the news of the outcome of the judgment said: “As a regional organisation, we support the rights of individuals residing in SADC to access the SADC Tribunal. This right cannot simply be taken away without due regard to the rule of law. The judgment supports the notion that the Executive ought not have a blank cheque to take actions at the international level without due regard to constitutional values and existing rights.”
For further details on the case please see: https://www.southernafricalitigationcentre.org/2014/08/10/south-africa-amicus-curiae-in-law-society-of-south-africa-case-challenging-sas-signing-of-new-sadc-tribunal-protocol/