When Botswana’s Court of Appeal delivered its recent decision on 709 people from Caprivi, living in the Dukwi refugee camp, deep in Botswana and close to the border with Zimbabwe, the judgment came as a serious blow to the hopes of the refugees. It has also raised questions by the refugees and their supporters, local and international, about whether the court was correct in its approach. Less theoretically, the refugees are deeply concerned about the dangers that they believe await them once they are returned to Caprivi – something that now seems inevitable – as well as the impact on their children’s education.
One of Kenya’s fabled national parks and the most remote of them all, is allegedly under threat by the actions of two cabinet ministers and the neglect of the country’s wildlife service. That is according to claims made in litigation before the environmental and land court. The case concerns the Malka Mari national park along the Daua River forming the border with Ethiopia in the far north east of Kenya and near the boundary with Somalia. Granting an urgent interim order to prevent the ministers allocating any further land to squatters or offering tenders for any further buildings or infrastructure, the judge said the matter was in the public interest and that the ministers and other respondents had not challenged any of the allegations against them.
Two Tanzanian poachers, who admitted they shot two animals in a national park, have been acquitted and set free on a second appeal. The country’s chief justice and two other appeal court judges found the prosecution had made crucial mistakes in the trial of the two men. The poachers had initially pleaded guilty to tracking and killing an impala and a kudu in the Ruaha National Park.
Judges from across the African continent have been attending the first specialist course offered by the Judicial Institute for Africa (Jifa) on environmental law. The week-long course has brought together specialists in the field and already the participating judges have been asking for a further in-depth course as they have now become aware of how many of the matters they will hear could involve issues of environmental law.
Ask any environmental law specialist who they regard as the top judicial specialist on the subject, and chances are they will name Australian, Brian Preston. He is the chief judge of the New South Wales environmental court, and someone who has written decisions that have changed the way lawyers and civil society think about environmental litigation.
Magistrates across Lesotho want a change in the way awaiting trial prisoners are treated. They are particularly concerned about conditions they believe impact negatively on the rule of law, judicial integrity and general confidence in the legal system. Now they have taken a number of resolutions likely to impact on the courts and the public. Among others, they have resolved to release people being held awaiting trial if their cases ‘are not prosecuted within a reasonable time’. They have also resolved to dismiss criminal cases where ‘pending investigations’ have continued for an ‘unreasonably long time’.