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International brief ~ Zimbabwe evictions appealed to African human rights body

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's international brief, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights [Zim Human Rights Forum backgrounder] have filed an official appeal with the African Commission for Human and Peoples' Rights [official website], the regional human rights body in Africa, to intervene in the continuing mass evictions authorized by Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe [Wikipedia profile] and prevent further evictions and the destruction of informal traders' places of business. ZLHR had previously filed suit [JURIST report] against the Zimbawean government for allegedly violating the Zimbabwean Constitution to carry out the mass evictions. The evictions program, defended by Mugabe as 'necessary to clean up the streets and cities of Zimbabwe,' has been severely criticized by the European Union, the United Nations, Amnesty International, the UK, and the US, as well as numerous international and local human rights and religious groups. The ACHPR has the power only to make recommendations to member governments and cannot enforce its decisions concerning government actions. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Zimbabwe [JURIST news archive]. ZimOnline has local coverage.

In a related development in Zimbabwe, the Bulawayo Upcoming Traders Association has succeded in getting a local High Court to schedule a hearing for an injunctive relief case against Bulawayo Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri in order to force him to cease the destruction of the places of business of informal traders in the Zimbabwean city. Counsel for the Traders Association, Robert Ndlovu, is arguing that the evictions are illegal as the traders had been properly licensed under Bulawayo [official website] municipal bylaws, and that the police carrying out the evictions failed to follow proper procedure in enforcing the eviction notices, thereby invalidating the process. The hearing is scheduled for early next week. ZimOnline has local coverage.

In other international legal news ...

  • The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia [government website] has announced that it will be investigating the circumstances surrounding voting in around 200 of the nation's 524 parliamentary seats that were open for election in light of complaints filed by both ruling and opposition party officials. Ethiopia has been rocked by increasing violence [JURIST report] during protests against alleged fraud [JURIST report] during the 15 May national elections, the first of four elections designed to reintroduce a democratic government in the nation for the first time in decades. The electoral board annonced that over 20 teams would be set up to investigate the allegations, which range from simple voter fraud to violent intimidation of voters by soldiers carrying automatic weapons. The NEB has invited observers from African Union, the European Union, and the Carter Center to oversee the process. A breakdown of the exact number of contested seats and their locations is scheduled to be released Friday. The Sudan Tribune has local coverage.

  • Chairman Samuel Kivuitu of the Electoral Commission of Kenya [government website] warned Wednesday that the current structure of the Constitution of Kenya Review (Amendment) Act 2004 [official text] is insufficently detailed to allow for a smooth review and eventual adoption of a new constitution for Kenya. Chief among his complaints was the lack of a Referendum Act in the CKRA that clearly defined the process for conducting the national referendum required by the CKRA to implement a new constitution. Kivuitu warned that the CKRA was silent on who was allowed to participate in the referendum (the act only refers to the 'people of Kenya'), what procedures would be implemented for monitoring and observing the process to ensure fair and impartial voting, and what role the judicial branch would have in deciding any legal challenges to the referendum. The Constitution of Kenya Review Commission [government website] has yet to set a timeline for the likely introduction of a detailed information concerning the proposed changes to the current constitution [official text]. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Kenya [JURIST news archive]. Kenya's Daily Nation has local coverage.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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