Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex 2


[For Immediate Release, 8 March 2002]

The IBA's Human Rights Institute expresses its dismay at the Zimbabwe Government's disregard for the rule of law

  The International Bar Association's (IBA) Human Rights Institute condemns the disregard shown by the Government of Zimbabwe for the role of the courts, which has been exacerbated by the resignation of yet another highly respected member of the judiciary.

  Justice Ebrahim announced his resignation on 2 March 2002 shortly after presiding over a Supreme Court Ruling that the General Laws Amendment Act has been enacted illegally. Following this decision on 27 February 2002, Justice Ebrahim brought his 12-year career as a Supreme Court Judge to an end, without explanation. Minister for Justice, Patrick Chinimasa, in a report in the Herald newspaper, confirmed that Justice Ebrahim would be leaving in May. No reason was given for his resignation.

  The Judge had ruled to reject legislation proposed by the Government that required greater restriction of election monitors and which increased the powers of State election officers. President Mugabe signed a decree on Tuesday 5 March, using presidential powers that overruled the judgement laid down by the Supreme Court.

  Justice Ebrahim was one of the many judges with whom the IBA delegation met during its mission to Zimbabwe between 12 and 18 March 2001 to investigate claims of attacks on the judiciary and the rule of law. Following its visit the delegation concluded that the rule of law was in grave peril, and that the independence of the judiciary was under threat. The delegation sought assurances from the Government that measures would be taken to ensure the judges were protected. The Government gave those assurances to the delegation. The delegation recommended that the decisions made by the courts were complied with, in accordance with internationally recognised standards. IBA is concerned that the Government's actions disregard Article 4 of the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, which states that:

    "There shall not be any inappropriate or unwarranted interference with the judicial process, nor shall judicial decisions by the courts be subject to revision. This principle is without prejudice to judicial review or to mitigation by competent authorities of sentences imposed by the judiciary, in accordance with the law."

  The action taken by President Mugabe in signing the decree clearly shows that the Government feels that it does not have any need to accede to the law laid down by its highest Court.

  This latest resignation demonstrates the Government's complete failure to comply with the assurances it made in March 2001 to the delegation. The latest overruling decree produced by the Government actively undermines the judiciary and rejects the rule of law, disregarding the explicit pledge made by the Zimbabwean Government as signatory to the Harare Declaration, to establish a national system based on the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 31 July 2002