Monday, June 22, 2009

Crucial Test For Judiciary

Published in: Legalbrief Africa
Date: Mon 22 June 2009
Category: Zimbabwe
Issue No: 336

A crucial test for Zimbabwe's judiciary comes before the country's Supreme Court, sitting as a constitutional court, when it is asked this week to consider the case of human rights activist Jestina Mukoko, who was taken from her home in the early hours of the morning last December by six armed men and a woman.

They did not produce a warrant and they refused to say on what authority they acted or indeed who they were. She was held in solitary confinement, interrogated and tortured. Leading legal commentator Carmel Rickard, writing in The Weekender, says Minister of State Security, Didymus Mutasa, confirmed what anyone could have guessed - that Mukoko's kidnapping, detention and torture had been carried out by 'state security agents'. Rickard says the facts are so stark that members of the court cannot avoid seeing the dispute as one in which they must make a choice. Either they decide to uphold Mukoko's rights under the Constitution of Zimbabwe or they permit the executive to act unconstitutionally (and by extension condone the view of the Attorney-General who told the court in so many words, that he is not subject to court orders). It will be argued before the court that the state has not only failed to investigate and prosecute those who so fundamentally violated Mukoko's rights, but the state is in fact the very authority which authorised the violations in the first place. The argument to be put to the judges is that the court 'cannot be seen to facilitate this executive defiance of the rule of law'.
Full article in The Weekender

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